RUGBY TOWN: Unbeaten so far in pre-season warm-ups

Rugby Town manager Dave Stringer in a pre-match briefing
Rugby Town manager Dave Stringer in a pre-match briefing

Romulus visitors to Butlin Road this weekend

Rugby Town’s decent pre-season form continued over the past week, with two more wins over teams who will play a division below them in the Midland Football League.

Valley first enjoyed a rout over Nuneaton Griff on the Butlin Road astroturf last Saturday, with likely first choice strike pairing Ruben Wiggins-Thomas and David Kolodynski both helping themselves to hat-tricks in the 9-1 thrashing.

A James Dance brace and a goal for Mason Rowley completed the Town score sheet against a club who finished tenth in the MFL Division One in 2016/17, with Danny Taylor also on target for the visitors in the first half.

Rugby followed this up with a hard fought for 2-1 midweek victory over Hinckley AFC – who were runners-up in the same division as Griff last time round.

Trialling winger Chadd Birch opened the scoring on Tuesday evening with a neat lob, before Wiggins-Thomas grabbed his sixth of the warm-up campaign ahead of the interval, with Hinckley’s Sam Ager then halving the deficit to set up a tense finale to the game.

Birch played for Willenhall in the West Midlands Premier League last season at the same level as Town now find themselves in, and he recorded more than 20 goals from a wide position.

The 24-year-old started both of the most recent friendly fixtures, with Valley boss Dave Stringer making just one change to his starting line-up from the Griff to the Hinckley outing, with Tevin Shakespeare given another chance to impress from the off in Leicestershire in place of Kolodynski.

Utility player Liam Holt missed both games through holiday, with Trey Brathwaite still yet to feature due to an ankle injury.

Full-back Craig Kelly and midfielder Josh Thornton have now both signed league registration forms to play for the club, with ex-youth teamer Harry Holloway also on board after making a good impression in the games to-date, whilst another one-time Town youth player Sean Castleton featuring as a second half substitute on Tuesday.

Next up for Town is another match on the Butlin Road 3G artificial surface this Saturday, when NPL South Division Romulus are the visitors for a 1.30 pm kick-off, before the main home pitch gets its first use next Tuesday (25th) evening for a fixture against Southern League Premier Banbury. Valley then host National League North Nuneaton in their final warm-up fixture on Monday 31st July. Both of these two final games are scheduled to start at 7.30 pm.

VALLEY KICK OFF NEW CAMPAIGN ON THE ROAD

Rugby Town’s fixtures for the Midland Football League Premier Division 2017/18 season were released this week, and their league campaign kicks off with an away game at the highly-rated Sporting Khalsa on Saturday, August 12.

Khalsa have enjoyed back-to-back third place finishes in the past two years in Valley’s new division and are among the likely challengers again this time round.

With Town’s competitive endeavours starting the previous weekend in the FA Cup at Coventry United, their first home league fixture will be on Tuesday, August 15 at home to Long Eaton who finished mid-table last season.

The first Saturday home game is against newly-promoted Haughmond on August 26 while the August Bank Holiday Monday sees a trip to another freshly-promoted side in the shape of South Normanton.

The other Bank Holiday fixtures include a trip to Shepshed Dynamo on Boxing Day, while Rugby will host Loughborough University on Easter Monday.

The season is scheduled to finish on Saturday, April 28 with Town’s longest trip of the season to face Hereford-based side Westfields.

The draw for the MFL League Cup was also made and Valley have been given a home draw in the First Round against Coventry Sphinx on Tuesday, September 19.