RUGBY TOWN: Manager urges patience as side rebuilds

Rugby Town manager Gary Moran
Rugby Town manager Gary Moran

Moran remains positive ahead of two home games this week

Rugby Town manager Gary Moran was trying his best to maintain a positive outlook, despite seeing his new side lose again on Tuesday evening.

Goalkeeper Louis Connor kept the score down against Market Drayton on Tuesday evening  PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Goalkeeper Louis Connor kept the score down against Market Drayton on Tuesday evening PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

The 3-0 midweek home defeat to Market Drayton came after Valley had done well to battle for a point at Stocksbridge last Saturday.

Moran is keen to highlight the long term nature of the rebuilding process he is currently undertaking following previous boss James Jepson’s resignation in September and the subsequent exodus of a significant majority of the playing squad.

He said: “I’m not too disheartened at the moment. We always knew it was going to be a gradual process and things were not going to change overnight.

“I believe that I have now got the players that I want at this football club and ones with experience of what it needs to succeed at this level, but it is going to take time to mould them into a team.

Louis Hamilton back after injury in Tueday's game

Louis Hamilton back after injury in Tueday's game

“We have to remember they have only played one or two times together as a unit, and they put in an excellent performance at Stocksbridge at the weekend in the circumstances.

“I accept that this dropped a bit on Tuesday, but their goal on the stroke of half-time was the real blow.”

The latest Butlin Road reverse meant it was four losses in four home league outings so far this season for Valley, as they languish at the foot of the NPL South Division table with just five points on the board from ten games.

Town are three points adrift of two teams – Stamford and Carlton, and Moran accepts that it is important to not let the situation drift too far.

Jake Woolley was energetic in midfield against Market Drayton

Jake Woolley was energetic in midfield against Market Drayton

He continued: “Obviously we can’t let it dip too much, and we pick up points wherever we can. We have a lot of home games coming up in the next month, so it is vital that we turn Butlin Road into a fortress and that starts by not conceding soft goals like we did on Tuesday.

“The players need to be patient of course and not get frustrated, but I believe that we have a good dressing room now and the squad are building a real togetherness, which will be crucial in the coming weeks.”

The two games over the past week saw another nine players make their Valley competitive debuts – in addition to the returning Craig Kelly, who made his first Town start after a more than a year at Bedworth. Kelly was joined in last Saturday’s opening eleven by a trio of one-time Stratford Town men – Emmitt Delfouneso, Anthony Charles and Joe Halsall, as Moran looked to his old club connections for a solution to Rugby’s current crisis situation.

35 year old central defender Charles also brings with him the experience of more than 200 games at professional level for Aldershot, Barnet, Northampton and Plymouth, as well as spells at Nuneaton, Worcester and Halesowen, whilst 27 year old central midfielder Halsall left Stratford to be part of the Leamington squad that narrowly missed out on promotion from the Southern League Premier Division last season.

Tuesday evening’s line-up saw a start for Birmingham City prospect Edji Mbunga, after the teenager signed on loan for Town. Mbunga was handed a six month professional contract by the St.Andrews’ club in May, after being beset by injury during his time at the academy there.

Coach Scott Hadland, Blaize Punter, Louis Hamilton, Leigh Phillips and Kyle Rowley all made their Rugby debuts from the bench across the two most recent games – taking the total of players used this season to 47 from just 15 games.

19 year old Rowley is the brother of ex-Valley favourite Mason and comes to Butlin Road after being released from his own professional contract at Walsall in March, whilst Hamilton finally returned from an injury which has seen him sit out the first two months of the campaign at his new club.

Moran is hoping that striker David Kolodynski is fit again to face the visit of Belper to Butlin Road this weekend, after the club’s all-time leading senior goalscorer sat out his first game of the season on Tuesday evening with a hamstring injury.

Kolodynski could be joined up front by another new signing Chris Sterling, after Moran confirmed the likely arrival of the ex-Stratford, Tividale and Sutton Coldfield marksman ahead of the weekend.

This Saturday’s opponents Belper currently sit in 16th place in the table, having lost their last two league fixtures, and following on from this game Town then host Tividale in the First Round of the Birmingham Senior Cup next Tuesday (25th).