RUGBY TOWN: Two home cup games this week against lower-league opposition

Substitute Chadd Birch on the charge against AFC Wulfrunians PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Substitute Chadd Birch on the charge against AFC Wulfrunians PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Harrowby United in the FA Vase on Saturday and Coventry Copsewood in the league cup on Tuesday

Rugby Town’s attentions switch back to cup competitions over the coming week, after their long unbeaten run came to end last Saturday at home to a useful Wulfrunians team in the MFL Premier Division.

Ben Ashby

Ben Ashby

The 2-1 Butlin Road reverse was Valley’s first defeat since the end of August, which also incorporated a more than nine-hour stint of not conceding a league goal.

A First Round Proper FA Vase tie against Harrowby United awaits Town this weekend, whilst Tuesday evening’s schedule has them up against Coventry Copsewood in the League Cup – with both games to be played at Butlin Road.

Both Harrowby and Copsewood play at a level below Rugby, with Saturday’s visitors operating in Division One of the United Counties League and the midweek local rivals a division below Town in the MFL.

However Valley will be without skipper James Dance against Harrowby, after he picked up a fifth booking of the season against Wulfrunians.

Josh Ruff was back on Saturday after a one-game ban

Josh Ruff was back on Saturday after a one-game ban

Already short of defensive options with the recent departure of Kyle Rowley, Town boss Dave Stringer will be hoping that Brad Harris is fit and available to step into Dance’s shoes in the Vase – with Josh Thornton another potential candidate to slot in alongside the in-form Sean Castleton.

Rowley looks set to join NPL Romulus, after the club released him from his one year contract after the defender had struggled to cement a regular place in Stringer’s starting line-up. Midfielder Steve Palmer was another departee last week after a single substitute’s appearance.

Saturday’s opponents United extended their winning streak to three matches with a 4-1 home victory over Irchester at the weekend and they are currently 12th in their table.

The Lincolnshire outfit should have a familiar face between the sticks for the game, as their regular keeper is ex-Valley man Sam Andrew. Andrew started 22 games for Dale Belford’s side in the second half of the 2015/16 season.

Niall Cooper punches clear against AFC Wulfrunians on Saturday

Niall Cooper punches clear against AFC Wulfrunians on Saturday

Town and Copsewood met in a pre-season friendly at the Coventry club’s Allard Way ground in July, with Josh Ruff, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas and David Kolodynski on target for the visitors in a 3-3 draw.

Copsewood’s Monday evening win at Paget lifted them up into 6th place in MFL Division One, whilst Rugby’s defeat at the weekend saw them slip to 10th in the congested mid-part of the Premier rankings.

At the top of this, Coleshill suffered only their second defeat of the season in a nine goal thriller at home to Stourport – allowing 2nd placed Bromsgrove to narrow the gap between the two early pacesetters to just one point.

Valley’s next league outing a week Saturday (28th) is at Bromsgrove, although their November league schedule looks a little kinder with all five games against teams currently in the bottom half of the division.

# If Saturday’s Vase fixture is drawn, then a replay would take place at Harrowby’s Dickens Road ground in Grantham and therefore the League Cup tie would be rescheduled for a later date.