RUGBY TOWN: Relegation battle getting serious with 15 games to go

Aaron Moses-Garvey in Saturday's defeat at Basford  PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Aaron Moses-Garvey in Saturday's defeat at Basford PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

At home to Spalding on Saturday

Rugby Town’s senior non-League football status continues to be under threat after two more defeats for them in the Evo-Stik NPL South Division over the past week.

Ryan Quinn in last week's game at Basford

Ryan Quinn in last week's game at Basford

Four and three goal to nil reverses at Basford and Rushden respectively left them stuck firmly in the relegation zone.

And it is looking increasingly like two from three for the drop down a level.

Bottom club Northwichare currently three points below Valley and 20th placed Loughborough now three ahead of them – after the Leicestershire club picked up another point at the weekend at home to Romulus.

Town still have to face both fellow strugglers as part of a 15-game run-in, which will determine whether they can extend their 34-year stay within the higher portions of the pyramid.

Blaize Punter at Basford

Blaize Punter at Basford

But first they host promotion chasing Spalding at Butlin Road this Saturday.

Spalding finished three places behind a ninth placed Rugby in last season’s table, but have had a much improved 2016/17 and are currently sitting in second, although their defeat to current league leaders Shaw Lane last weekend extended the gap between the two sides to six points.

That loss ended the Tulips run of seven unbeaten games, and the Lincolnshire side will be looking to complete the double over Town following their 3-1 victory in the reverse fixture back in September when two late goals secured them the points after Jake Woolley’s equaliser had given the visitors hope of a draw.

Valley will be without defender Callum Burgess for the Spalding fixture after he joined team-mate Anthony Charles in receiving a three-match ban for his red card at Basford.

Kyle Rowley back with Rugby

Kyle Rowley back with Rugby

Charles will sit out the final game of his suspension this weekend, with another Rugby player Mitchell Thomson due to miss next week’s trip to Northwich after he was also sent-off (for two yellow cards) in the midweek game at Rushden.

With Levi Rowley, Aiden Print and Aaron Moses-Garvey all nursing ankle injuries which saw the former two miss both recent defeats and Moses-Garvey absent from the Rushden game, Town boss Gary Moran has been active in the transfer market again bringing in young full-back Callum Westwood and also securing a return to the club for Kyle Rowley.

Eighteen-year-old Westwood is a product of the Northampton Town academy, before signing for Kettering last summer and Rowley – brother of club captain Mason – is back at Butlin Road for a second time this season after finding first team opportunities limited at NPL Premier Division Hednesford.

Westwood’s debut at Basford and the subsequent appearance off the bench for another recent signing Toby Fura in the same game took the tally of players who have represented the club this season to 62.

Fura is another to have been released by a professional club (Leicester City) at the end of his scholarship, with the 19-year-old midfielder most recently at fellow NPL South Division team Gresley.