Boss Stringer urges players to rally round and fill the void
Rugby Town’s promotion prospects took a huge dent this week with the departure of ace marksman David Kolodynski to division rivals Kettering.
Kolodynski is leaving for the current league leaders, just as Valley had pulled themselves within touching distance of the play-offs following the weekend victory at Aylesbury United.
The striker’s second spell at Butlin Road has brought him goals galore – with the double in the recent League Cup tie against Redditch now taking his tally in all competitions to 150.
Kolodynski’s scoring exploits last season saw him overtake both Robbie Beard and Danny Conway in the club’s Southern League and all senior competition goal records respectively – achievements which helped earn him the Sportsman of the Year gong at the Rugby Sports Awards.
However despite appearing to commit himself to the club for the 2014/15 campaign in the summer, the home-grown forward has decided to accept the package on offer from the Northamptonshire club, after the Poppies put in a seven day approach for him last week.
Valley boss Dave Stringer was obviously disappointed to be losing his main source of goals, but called on the rest of his squad to rally round and fill the void.
He said: “It clearly will be a big miss for us and it would be the same for any club in this situation, but we have to move on from it quickly.
“We have been lucky to have had Kolo and his goals for the last couple of years or so, but everyone has to muck in now and try and replace him and them.
“We’ve got a few irons in the fire in terms of bringing in a new striker, but it’s bound to be a difficult process to find the right player who is both available and affordable.”
Stringer’s attacking options were further diminished during last Saturday’s 3-2 success – a fourth in five league matches for Town – when Seb Lake-Gaskin limped off after just nine minutes on his return from an ankle injury.
Stringer continued: “Seb won’t be available this Saturday, as his ankle got hurt again. It’s disappointing as we thought he was fit to play, although I’m hoping that he won’t be out for too long this time.”
Stringer will also be hoping that his remaining main strike threat Justin Marsden can recover from the bruised Achilles he received at Aylesbury for this Saturday’s home game against Leighton.
The in-form Marsden grabbed the opening goal at the weekend – making it four games on the trot that he has found the net, and after the departure of Kolodynski, the absence of the injured Lake-Gaskin and with Lewis McBride also unavailable for Saturday, Stringer is hoping that he can bring at least one new face in ahead of kick-off.
He said: “It’s a blow to be missing so many key players, but these kind of things happen at every club - so we need to pull together.
“Our performances have picked up over the past month – both individually and collectively, apart from the fact that we’re still giving away far too many soft goals.
“We’ve slightly changed our shape and the way we are playing, and it seems to have worked overall. This change has been dictated by the make-up of the squad we have at the moment, and we have been back to playing some decent football again as a result.”
Town’s run of form has seen them move up into sixth place in the table – just a point off the play-off zone, and a victory against Leighton could easily move them up a further couple of spots.
Saturday’s opponents are struggling down in 18th position, although their recent run of two draws and a win from their last three outings has at least seen a slight improvement in fortunes for them.
Rugby have won the last six games between the two clubs – including a 4-0 victory in the corresponding home game in 2013/14 back in February.
BAGGIES BOUNCE INTO TOWN
Next Tuesday evening Rugby will face a side from Premier League West Bromwich Albion in the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup at Butlin Road.
A Valley victory against another league club Burton Albion in the previous round earned them this prestige tie, and whilst the Baggies line-up is likely to primarily consist of development and academy players, Town boss Dave Stringer is still looking forward to the match-up.
He explained: “It’s a great game for the lads to look forward to. Whatever the make-up of their team, it’s still a West Brom side and you never know there might be a couple of fringe first teamers in there too.”
The two clubs have met six times previously in the county F.A. competition, and Rugby are yet record a victory over the Albion – with two third round and two semi-final exits in the records between 1987 and 1998.