RUGBY TOWN: Trips to Spalding and Gresley this week

Rugby Town manager Dale Belford  PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Rugby Town manager Dale Belford PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Boss Belford full of praise for his squad

Rugby Town manager Dale Belford has heaped praise on his playing squad, as Valley head out onto the road in search of the points that could lift them even closer to the NPL South Division play-off zone.

Scorer Kevin Thornton

Scorer Kevin Thornton

Ninth placed Town now face a run of four successive away fixtures as part of a eleven match run-in which sees eight games away from Butlin Road, but Belford is confident that his men have the necessary mettle to deal with this.

He said: “We know how tough it is going to be over the next few weeks, but with this group of players anything is possible.

“I can genuinely say that this is hardest managerial job that I have ever undertaken, but equally this is easily the best group of players in terms of their honesty, commitment and desire.

“I can only commend their loyalty to me, the fans and the club, especially the ones who have travelled around the north of England week in and week out without getting too much game time for only a small financial reward.

Mitchell Piggon in Saturday's win against Goole

Mitchell Piggon in Saturday's win against Goole

“The fact that they have decided to stay with it despite this demonstrates their incredible commitment and also shows how much they are enjoying being part of what we are doing at the moment.”

Valley’s latest three point haul last weekend against Goole came courtesy of goals from Kevin Thornton and Rob Parker, and next-up for Belford’s side is a trip to Spalding on Saturday - quickly followed by a visit to Gresley’s Moat Ground on Tuesday evening.

Belford continued: “Now it is all but certain that we have done enough to stay at this level for next season, we really want to take it as far as we can and get as many points on the board as possible, and if that can take us to the play-offs somehow then that would be great for the players.

“We’ve shown over the past three home matches how far we have come.

Jonathan Thorpe was injured in the second half last weekend

Jonathan Thorpe was injured in the second half last weekend

“I was delighted with the showing against Stafford, and whilst we ended up empty handed from the game, there was little between the two teams on the day.

“To bounce straight back against another of the top teams in the division (Coalville) with what I consider is possibly our best performance of the season and then to show the determination to ‘win ugly’ against Goole on Saturday shows the character we have here.”

Saturday’s opponents Spalding are level on points with Town, but sit a place higher due to their superior goal difference - although they have played a game more, whilst Valley’s hosts on Tuesday Gresley are four points and four places adrift of them.

Belford confirmed that fringe players Jetmir Esso and Sam Woods were likely to sign for Daventry this week, although he was hoping to add Bedworth youngster Josh Willis to his squad.

He explained: “Opportunities are limited for Jet and Sam at the moment, and I have never been the type of manager to stand in the way of a player if he has the chance to get game time elsewhere.

“Josh is a good prospect and most certainly one for the future, but he can provide us cover in the centre of defence and midfield now too.”

Defender Nat Kelly may be recalled by his parent club Solihull for the weekend, but with Tom Ryan available again after a two week break following concussion, Belford has a ready made replacement if need be.