RUGBY TOWN: Trip to Khalsa for first league game

Liam Holt was robust in midfield
Liam Holt was robust in midfield

Long Eaton visit on Tuesday

Having kicked off their season with a victory in the FA Cup at Coventry United last Saturday, Rugby Town’s attentions now turn to the league this weekend for their first ever MFL game.

Mason Rowley in Rugby's FA Cup win

Mason Rowley in Rugby's FA Cup win

Valley face a difficult baptism in their new domain with a trip to Sporting Khalsa – who have recorded back-to-back third place finishes in its Premier Division over the last two years, with Town manager Dave Stringer fully aware of the testing nature of both this first fixture and the campaign as a whole.

He explained: “This is a very tough league and anyone assuming just because we have been relegated from the level above that we will comfortably stroll through it is misguided.

“There are a number of strong teams in our division with the likes of Bromsgrove, Coleshill, Worcester, Lye and none more so than our opponents this weekend.

“I faced them with Chasetown in the Staffordshire Senior Cup last season, so I know what they are capable of. They will be a well-organised, direct and physical unit and they are very good at what they do.

Harry Holloway impressed in midfield at Coventry United    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Harry Holloway impressed in midfield at Coventry United PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

“It was encouraging to start things off with a win in the cup though and we played some decent football at times and also showed good determination to achieve the result a man light, and we will need all of this and more to get something from the game on Saturday.”

Khalsa were only formed in 1991 by the local Sikh community and the Willenhall-based outfit opened their season with a 2-2 FA Cup draw at home to Stourport last weekend, before progressing into the Preliminary Round of the competition with a 3-2 victory after extra time in Tuesday’s replay.

Rugby’s success over the Coventry phoenix entity means that NPL South Division side Romulus now visit Butlin Road a week on Saturday (19th) in the next round, where Valley striker David Kolodynski will be hoping to continue his particularly fine form for the club in the nation’s favourite sporting knockout spectacle.

Kolodynski’s brace on Saturday took his Town tally to 17 goals in just 24 FA Cup starts across the eight campaigns he has featured for them in the competition, and it was also the fifth time he had notched twice (or more) in an FA Cup tie for Valley.

Following the Khalsa game, Rugby then host Long Eaton United on Tuesday (15th) in their opening home MFL fixture.

Long Eaton have finished 14th and 18th in the 2016/17 and 2015/16 MFL Premier terms respectively, and were thrashed 6-0 at Bottesford in their FA Cup tie last Saturday.

Stringer has moved quickly to address the void at left-back caused by injuries to both Craig Kelly and Trey Brathwaite ahead of the United cup success by signing 18 year old Jamie Hall.

Hall made his first appearance in a sky blue shirt at the Barker Butts Stadium, and arrives at the club having been released by Northampton Town last season. He trialled for Nuneaton against Town in the friendly between the two sides at the end of July – impressing the Rugby boss in the process.

Despite the tough initiation process, Stringer is still looking forward to the new league season. He said: “I’ve watched a lot of MFL football in recent years and whilst it will undoubtedly be challenging, I am confident that we have managed to assemble a playing squad that is capable of competing in this division.

“There will almost certainly be some others that come in along the way, but we have achieved a great deal in the close season already and I can’t wait to get going for real now.”

# The club coach to the Aspray Arena on Saturday will leave Butlin Road at 11.45am. For latest information, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.