Valley set for final third of league campaign
In-form Rugby Town will be hoping for a swift return to action this weekend at home to Aylesbury United, after their game at St.Ives last Saturday fell victim to the wintery weather.
All looked set for Valley’s attempt at stretching their winning streak to eight matches when the Cambridgeshire club passed their pitch fit to play after a 10.30 morning inspection. However less than two hours later and with the Town coach having already set off, a covering of snow saw the game frustratingly postponed.
Therefore Rugby remain in fourth place in the Evostik Southern League Central Division table, having played two thirds of their fixtures – with Kettering, Bedworth and Aylesbury FC above them jostling for the top spot.
Bedworth’s weekend 3-1 success over North Greenford had seen them leapfrog the previous leaders Aylesbury to take over at the summit, but then Kettering’s narrow win against Beaconsfield on Tuesday evening saw them regain pole position – with just two points separating the top three sides.
Valley are three further points back, with the final play-off place currently occupied by Hanwell – a point behind Dave Stringer’s side, although with a game-in-hand.
Barton (6th) and Royston (7th) are the two other clubs likely to be in the play-off mix come the end of the season, although Barton’s hopes took a blow when their hot prospect Keshi Anderson earned himself a dream move to Premier League Crystal Palace on deadline day of the transfer window.
Anderson scored Rovers’ first goal in their 2-0 victory against Rugby back in October, and his remarkable rise seven levels up the football ladder was sealed after he scored a hat-trick within six minutes against his new team whilst on trial at Brentford.
Saturday’s visitors United boast their own prolific scoring threat in the shape of Lewis Putman, who currently tops the Central Division goals chart with nineteen. Putman started the season in fine form at Hanwell, and has continued to add to his tally with the Ducks since his switch to there in November.
United’s 4-2 midweek defeat at Uxbridge meant they stayed in 15th position in the table, and Town will be looking to complete their fourth double of the season, after they a secured a 3-2 success in the reverse fixture at Bell Close in November – when a late strike from Will Grocott settled a rollercoaster affair.
Stringer should have virtually a full squad to pick from at the weekend, with Robbie Burns and possibly even Craig Kelly both nearing a return from injury.
# Following on from Saturday’s Butlin Road game, Valley then host Corby in the Quarter Final of the Red Insure (League) Cup next Tuesday (10th), hoping to improve on their last appearance at this stage of the competition in 2012 when they narrowly lost at Chesham.
Corby are currently challenging for a return to the Conference structure, sitting in fourth place in the Premier Division – although their nine match unbeaten run in the league did come to an end at the weekend with a 1-0 defeat at Paulton.
# Saturday’s home game represents the club’s first sponsor day of the season. Sponsors will be entertained in the recently-opened hospitality suite. For further information on this multi-functional facility, please call the club on 01788 866920.