RUGBY TOWN: Royston visit

Seb Lake-Gaskin
Seb Lake-Gaskin

MANAGER Dave Stringer will be hoping his Rugby Town side can replicate their fine away form and make it ‘home sweet home’, when Valley kick-off a run of three home games this weekend against Southern League new boys Royston.

Saturday’s Butlin Road match-up against the Central Division front-runners is quickly followed by the visit of Thatcham on Tuesday and concluded the following Saturday (24th) when Valley will host Fleet, writes Jon Venner.

Last Saturday’s 2-1 success at Uxbridge means Town now have the best away record in the division, and in 11 games on the road in all competitions this season, they have only ended the (first) 90 minutes in arrears on one occasion.

In sharp contrast Rugby’s results at home have been disappointing - with just seven of their 26 league points coming at Butlin Road.

Stringer recognises this shortfall and commented: “Our form on opponents’ grounds has been terrific, and I put that down to the pace we have up-front.

“We come across our fair share of poor playing surfaces when away, so when that’s the case we seem to take more of a long-ball route and let our strikers do the rest..

“At home, on what is a terrific pitch at Butlin Road, we have a tendency to over-elaborate and play too much football at times, and have been caught out by it on occasions.

“Also visiting teams take one look at our surface and automatically raise their game. But that’s something we have to deal with and get our act together on home soil, if we are going to stay in promotion hunt.”

The Uxbridge victory moved Rugby up a further place to seventh, although Royston will provide a tough test for them on Saturday, after a great start to their first season at this level – with just one league defeat in 15 Evostik games to-date.

Tuesday’s visitors Thatcham are another side playing their first competitive game at Butlin Road following their transfer across from the league’s other regional division – although they have struggled and have yet to make it out of the bottom third of the table.

One thing Stringer will most certainly be happy with is the scoring form of his strikers Seb Lake-Gaskin and David Kolodynski. The pair have accounted for all of Valley’s last 14 strikes, with Lake-Gaskin on target in each of the last five games and Kolodynski having recorded nine goals in nine starts since his return to the club in October.

Town completed the signing of midfielder Sam Belcher from Bedworth in time for the Uxbridge fixture, and he made his Rugby debut as a second half substitute.