Two late wins lift Valley back to third spot
Two tight back-to-back victories have lifted Rugby Town up one place to third in the Calor Central Division table, ahead of two more games over the coming week - when they first host Northwood this weekend, before travelling to Egham next Tuesday evening.
Valley were not necessarily at their most convincing in the 3-2 home win over Marlow nor the 1-0 midweek one at Leighton, but the successes were deserved nevertheless and both came as a result of late winning goals – underlining the spirit that David Stringer and his management team have embodied into the young squad.
Winning matches is of course habitual, and Town have now done this nine times in their last ten league outings, although Saturday’s opponents Northwood are in good league form themselves with seven victories in their unbeaten eight match run.
Saturday’s fixture represents the eleventh meeting between the two sides over the past eight years, with the overall record evenly poised at three wins each.
Rugby will be looking to avenge for a rare home defeat last season, when Seb Lake-Gaskin’s early goal was overturned by two subsequent Woods’ strikes.
Tuesday’s victory at Leighton saw the return to Valley action for Sam Belcher after a nearly three month absence, when he came off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Andrew Spencer.
Stringer will be hoping that the midfielder’s return – who was such a key player in their 2012/13 campaign - is a more prolonged affair than the last one, when he only managed to feature in the opening six games of this season following knee ligament damage at the back end of the last one.
Belcher’s return is particularly timely following the departure in the week of another central midfielder Sam Youngs – who has ended his second spell at the club by signing for Southern League Premier Redditch.
Youngs leaves having made 87 starts in a Town shirt, and his eye for goal – which has seen him score 22 times – will undoubtedly be missed.
Craig Kelly was also withdrawn prematurely at Leighton, and both him and Spencer are therefore doubts ahead of the weekend fixture.
Tuesday’s match-up with Egham will be the first time the two sides have met competitively, and follows-on from the Surrey club’s return to step four of the non-league pyramid after an eight year gap.
The intriguingly-nicknamed Sarnies have had a mixed start to their return to this level though, and are currently 17th in the table.
Coincidentally, Rugby’s two upcoming opponents met on Tuesday evening, with Northwood recovering from two early Egham goals with four of their own to move up into fifth place.
# The club coach to Egham will leave Butlin Road at 4.30pm prompt. For latest information, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.