RUGBY TOWN: Up to eighth in the table

Kevin Thornton in Rugby's draw with Spalding  PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Kevin Thornton in Rugby's draw with Spalding PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Trip to third-placed team on Saturday

VALLEY EDGE UP ANOTHER PLACE IN THE TABLE

Tom James fights for possession against Spalding

Tom James fights for possession against Spalding

Rugby Town continued their upward momentum in the Evostik NPL South Division by extending their longstanding unbeaten away run after their trips to Spalding and Gresley over the last week.

Valley’s four point haul from the Spalding 1-1 draw and a 3-1 success at Gresley lifted them up into eighth spot – their highest standing of the season so far, and it is now five months since they tasted defeat in a league game away from Butlin Road.

That impressive record will be further tested this weekend with a trip to third placed Shaw Lane Aquaforce, where they will face a team clearly enjoying their first season at this level of football.

The Barnsley-based club have arguably the most realistic chance – albeit an outside one – of catching the division’s current leaders Stafford, although their midweek draw at Sheffield means there is a now fifteen point differential for them to make up and Shaw Lane now only have four games in hand over Rangers.

Chris Tullin at centre back at Spalding

Chris Tullin at centre back at Spalding

Town are still six points shy of the play-off zone (and Lincoln United in 5th), with Chasetown (6th) and Leek (7th) both two points ahead of Valley between that.

Rugby travel to all three clubs though in April, so there is still much to play for as Dale Belford seeks to complete what would be a remarkable turnaround from the situation he inherited back in September.

Valley have lost just once in fourteen league outings now – a narrow home defeat to leaders Stafford at the end of February, but likewise this Saturday’s opponents are in good form themselves, with the Sheffield draw extending their unbeaten run to eleven matches.

Belford recalled his leading scorer David Kolodynski to the starting line-up for the midweek win at Gresley, after having benched the striker for the three consecutive games following the Stafford loss.

Mitchell Piggon up front against Gresley on Tuesday

Mitchell Piggon up front against Gresley on Tuesday

Speaking on the decision last week Belford explained: “I have always said that no one player is bigger than the team and nobody is undroppable.

“Kolo has done well over recent months and scored plenty of goals, but he also needs to buy into what we are building here in terms of a team ethos.

“We thought long and hard about the decision to change the line-up, but we felt that the physical presence of Mitchell Piggon was needed. Having said that, I am sure that Kolo still has a massive part to play for us in the remainder of the campaign.”

# Saturday’s game will be played at the ground of NPL Premier Division club Frickley Athletic due to the current condition of the Shaw Lane pitch. The club coach will leave Butlin Road at 10.30 a.m.

Callum Powell swerves goalwards at Gresley

Callum Powell swerves goalwards at Gresley

# Next (Good) Friday’s match at Romulus has been confirmed as a 7.45pm kick-off. Coach departure for this is scheduled at 5.15pm. For latest information on away travel plans contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.