RUGBY TOWN: Just ten games to go in play-off campaign

Mitchell Piggon was back in the team against Chalfont St Peter (pictures by Martin Pulley)
Mitchell Piggon was back in the team against Chalfont St Peter (pictures by Martin Pulley)
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Valley in fourth spot with two away trips this week

With only ten games now remaining, Rugby Town enter the final straight of their 2014/15 Southern League Central Division campaign with back-to-back trips to Potters Bar and St.Ives tomorrow (Saturday) and next Tuesday respectively.

Craig Kelly breaks on the left wing

Craig Kelly breaks on the left wing

If that as yet elusive elevation to the Premier Division is to occur, it will almost certainly be via the play-offs though, after current leaders Kettering recorded two more victories over the last week to further extend their lead at the top of the table.

The Poppies now have an eight point margin over second placed Bedworth, with Town a further six points back in fourth.

Valley briefly held third spot following their scrappy 2-1 success at the weekend at home to Chalfont, but Aylesbury’s midweek win at Hayes saw them leapfrog over Rugby again.

Town’s current tally of 62 points is just one short of Aylesbury’s though, whilst they have a three point cushion between them and the team currently occupying the final spot in the play-off zone – Royston.

Alex Gudger, robust defence against Chalfont

Alex Gudger, robust defence against Chalfont

Having just missed out on the end-of-season promotion knock-out jamboree in their first two seasons back in the regional division in 2010/11 and 2011/12 with successive sixth place finishes, Town then recorded runners-up spots in both 2012/13 and 2013/14 before losing in the play-offs, so the Valley faithful will be hoping it is fifth time lucky for their side this time round.

Using the last two seasons as a guide, Rugby may need up to a further 20 points from their final ten matches to be sure of a place in the top five, and their first opportunity to gather some of these comes in Hertfordshire on Saturday where they will face a Potters Bar side who have struggled for the majority of the season.

However the Scholars did record a 6-1 win at the weekend against Hayes, although it was not enough to lift them from the sixteenth position they currently occupy.

The two sides met for the first time last season, following Potters’ switch over from the Isthmian structure, and Dave Stringer’s side did the double then, before following this up with a 2-0 victory at Butlin Road earlier in the season thanks to two goals from the now-departed David Kolodynski.

Seb Lake-Gaskin

Seb Lake-Gaskin

Tuesday’s opponents St.Ives were another to make a first appearance on Rugby’s head-to-head record in 2013/14 after the Cambridgeshire club were promoted into the Southern League, and Town also enjoyed maximum points from the two games. The reverse fixture this time round back in October ended all-square at 2-2, with Rugby twice throwing away the lead.

Stringer is likely to be without Lewis McBride for the foreseeable future, with the winger ruled out with a knee injury, but otherwise he should have a full squad to select from for the weekend.

He will be hoping striker Richard Gregory can continue his fine scoring form for the club following his signing from Stratford in January, with his two goals last Saturday meaning it is now seven in seven league starts in a Valley shirt for him.

# The club coach to Potters Bar tomorrow (Saturday) will leave Butlin Road at 11.30am, and the one to St.Ives on Tuesday at 4.45pm. For latest information on these, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.

Justin Marsden was Rugby's Star Man against Chalfont

Justin Marsden was Rugby's Star Man against Chalfont