Second-half comeback ends Town’s Trophy trail
FA Trophy – Preliminary Round
Rugby Town 1
Rugby’s poor run in the Trophy over recent times continued in the Black Country on Saturday.
Despite putting in a performance that should have easily earned them something from the tie, Valley exited at the first hurdle of the competition for the seventh time in the last nine years, after the hosts’ two second half goals overturned Town skipper Alex Gudger’s early opener.
Midfielder Richard Blythe replaced the unavailable Lewis McBride in the only change to the starting line-up from the one which had comfortably progressed in the FA Cup a week earlier.
Gudger struck on five minutes heading home Sam Youngs’s corner, after the set-piece taker had seen his initial shot from twenty yards smartly turned round the post by keeper Ryan Price – the start of an inspired showing on the day from the Scholars stopper.
This early strike had appeared to pave the way for another handsome cup victory for Town, with the chances continuing to come Rugby’s way for the remainder of the half.
Justin Marsden smashed over on the angle after some good interchange play with David Kolodynski, and Kolodynski himself shot just wide shortly after.
Price pulled out another fine save to deny Marsden from just inside the box, after Seb Lake-Gaskin’s pass had released him, and both Kolodynski and Andrew Spencer also had efforts fly narrowly over the bar before the interval.
Chasetown’s sole chance of a disappointing opening period for them had seen Niall Cooper save well from Paul Sullivan, but they emerged a stronger proposition for the second half – with ex-Valley man Avun Jephcott withdrawn ahead of the restart.
Whilst Youngs’s speculative effort did clip the base of the upright, the home side were soon level after Danny Griffiths had broken down the left before cutting the ball back to Sullivan – whose neat touch and turn created the opening for him to finish past Cooper.
Jack Farmer then headed wide from a corner, as Town lost their way for a while following the equaliser.
The hosts’ winning goal on eighty minutes had a touch of good fortune to it though, with Danny Bragoli’s attempted long-range pass ricocheting off Blythe into the path of Simon Brown, who then delivered a cross to the far post – which was nodded in by substitute Theo Robinson.
Rugby pushed hard for an equaliser, with Ellis Myles testing Price from distance, and the in-form keeper twice denying Kolodynski – first with a fine save to his volley from Craig Kelly’s cross and later tipping over a clever chip.
However Chasetown held on to the final whistle to secure a trip to Redditch in the next round of the competition.
Rugby line-up and ratings: Cooper 7, Myles 6, Kelly 6, Rowley 7, Gudger 7, Youngs 6, Spencer 6 (Moses-Garvey 6), Blythe 6, Kolodynski 6, Lake-Gaskin 6, Marsden 8. Subs not used: Williams, Palmer, Bishop, Gnadja
Rugby goal: Gudger 5
Chasetown goals: Sullivan 53, Robinson 80
Rugby Star Man: Justin Marsden