RUGBY TOWN: Strong squad up for the run-in

Richard Blythe in last week's win over Beaconsfield (Picture by Martin Pulley)
Richard Blythe in last week's win over Beaconsfield (Picture by Martin Pulley)
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Winning streak stretches to seven games

Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer stressed he would not be afraid to make changes to his starting line-up for the upcoming visit to St.Ives this Saturday, despite seeing his side extend their winning streak to seven last weekend against Beaconsfield.

Two late goals from substitutes Lewis Rankin and Fazel Koriya secured Valley’s latest 2-1 success at Butlin Road, after the hosts had put in a relatively innocuous first eighty minutes or so.

Stringer explained: “We didn’t play well on Saturday, but fortunately we managed to find a way to get the win in the end.

“Before we finally made the breakthrough, we had struggled to get any real control, our passing was generally poor and there were a few out there who didn’t play to their full potential.

“We changed things around as the second half went on, and altered our philosophy a little too. We thought we needed an injection of pace and tried to get in behind them more, and it seemed to work.

Looking forward to the weekend trip to Cambridgeshire, he continued: “I’m not the type of manager that continues to pick the same team just because we are winning, as I think that is a bit of a cop out.

“With most of the injured players now back available again, we have a strong squad at the moment and the lads that came off the bench on Saturday did fantastically – so it’s highly possible that we might make one or two changes at St.Ives.

The Beaconsfield victory took fourth placed Town to within three points of current Evostik Southern League Central Division leaders Aylesbury – who slipped to a rare defeat at home to Godalming last weekend, with Kettering (2nd) and Bedworth (3rd) also snapping at the heels of the Moles a point adrift.

Stringer concluded: “If we can keep this squad together and free from further injuries until the end of the season, I believe we should be in with a decent chance.”

Saturday’s opponents St.Ives are sitting in 14th place in the congested mid-chunk of the table, and come into the game in reasonably decent form with just two defeats from their last eleven league matches.

Their latest outing saw them earn a point from a 0-0 home draw with fifth placed Hanwell, although with 59 goals against them across the whole league campaign to-date, only bottom side AFC Hayes (61) have conceded more so far.

This is the second season of competitive fixtures between the two sides, with Rugby having done the double over The Ives in 2013/14 – including a 3-0 success in the corresponding game at Westwood Road, thanks to a Seb Lake-Gaskin double and one from Sam Youngs.

A 2-2 draw in this season’s reverse fixture at Butlin Road back in October saw the visitors twice come from behind to deny Valley the victory, with Lake-Gaskin again on the scoresheet.

The 23 year-old striker continued his rehabilitation from an extended period out with an ankle injury with a first league start in eleven games against Beaconsfield last weekend. However fellow ankle victim full-back Craig Kelly is still missing and unlikely to be back in action for a few weeks.

# The coach to St.Ives will leave the clubhouse at 11.45 a.m. For the latest information contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.

# Rugby’s next home game sees Aylesbury United at Butlin Road on Saturday February 7th, before Premier Division Corby visit for the League Cup Quarter-Final tie on Tuesday February 10th.