Trip to Marlow on Saturday
Rugby Town travel to Marlow on Saturday looking to reverse the recent poor run which threatens to derail their title bid.
The midweek 1-1 result at rock-bottom Ashford followed on from the goal-less outcome against Dunstable, meaning it is now four without a win for Valley.
However boss Dave Stringer is not panicking just yet, although he admitted his side was not performing to the required level.
Speaking after the Dunstable draw, he said: “We seem to have gone off the boil a little over the past fortnight.
“We had the chances to beat Aylesbury, but the performance that followed in the defeat at Uxbridge was probably our worst of the season.
“Then on Saturday against Dunstable, it was always going to be tough, and as is often the case in top of the table clashes, both sides looked nervy and more focused on not losing the game.”
He continued: “Yes Daventry are looking strong at the moment, and if they make up the gap from their games in the hand, then I will congratulate them on their achievement.
“However we’re still top of the league, and I think there are still many twists and turns to come.”
Rugby currently head Dunstable by four points, with Daventry two further points adrift – having played six games less than Valley.
However Town’s local rivals still have to face a strong Kettering side twice, as well as Slough, Dunstable and Royston in their run-in – which starts with Kettering’s visit tonight (Thursday).
Other teams jostling for play-off berths also dropped points in midweek – with 5th to 8th placed Barton, Royston, Beaconsfield and Northwood all drawing.
However third-placed Slough did win at the weekend and Kettering (9th) are another team with plenty of games in-hand and also the ability to mount a late challenge of their own.
Whilst Stringer would of course prefer to claim the title winning automatic promotion spot, he was clear he did not fear the alternative route to the league’s Premier Division.
He said: “We’ve had experience of the play-offs last year, so hopefully we wouldn’t be phased by it this time round.
“We’ve strengthened the squad for the run-in, bolstering our midfield options in particular.”
Town announced three signings ahead of the Dunstable game, with midfielders Aaron King and Luke Bottomer joining striker Ben Gallant at the club.
King signed from AFC Rushden & Diamonds having previously featured at Woodford and Daventry, ex-Coventry City youth teamer Bottomer’s last two clubs were Chasetown and Leamington, and Gallant had already notched eleven goals for struggling Leighton this season.
Saturday’s opponents Marlow are currently in 15th, and Town have a perfect record in the five previous league meetings between the clubs.
The last victory came at Butlin Road in November, when a late strike from skipper Alex Gudger secured a 3-2 win over the Buckinghamshire side.
# The coach to Marlow will leave the clubhouse at 11am. For latest information, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.