RUGBY TOWN: Valley’s Vase hopes vanish after replay

Captain James Dance was Rugby's Star Man on Tuesday
Captain James Dance was Rugby's Star Man on Tuesday

Beaten by two first-half goals at Butlin Road on Tuesday evening

PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Desperate defence in Tuesday's defeat    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Desperate defence in Tuesday's defeat PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

FA Vase – Second Round Proper

(Original tie) Wolverhampton Sporting 2 Rugby Town 2 AET

(Replay) Rugby Town 0 Wolverhampton Sporting 2

Town’s Vase adventure came to an end for the season, after they conceded two first half goals in Tuesday evening’s replay against their West Midlands Regional League opponents.

Craig Kelly, sound in defence

Craig Kelly, sound in defence

The two sides had to meet again at Butlin Road after Saturday’s game had ended all-square, with all four goals coming in the final twenty minutes of normal time.

Having given themselves a mountain to climb in the replay, Valley did have a series of chances to get back into the game, but once more were let down by poor finishing.

The first half of the original tie was a drab affair, and Rugby’s only chance of the period was a weak shot from Josh Ruff on 45 minutes. At the other end, the hosts had looked threatening in the early exchanges without really extending Town keeper Niall Cooper.

Valley did start well after the restart though, with Tevin Shakespeare having a header comfortably saved by home keeper James Gettings and then the same player was denied again by Gettings after a decent pass from Harry Holloway.

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas is tightly marked

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas is tightly marked

In between Shakespeare’s two chances, a strike from Wolves’ Tom Hill was deflected for a corner, but the hosts took the lead after good interchange play between Jonathan Letford and Kyle Delaney was followed by a couple of missed tackles on Letford – allowing him to apply a finish inside the Town box.

Rugby’s response was almost immediate though, when Josh Thornton headed home after a superb cross from the right by Fabian Smith.

Things got better for Rugby on 81 minutes when Ruff and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas both did well to set up Aiden Print in the box and he squared the ball for fellow substitute Trey Brathwaite to give Town the lead.

The advantage was short-lived though, and they confidently struck back to equalize four minutes later when substitute Wes Grey converted a floated cross that the Rugby defence failed to deal with.

Niall Cooper punches clear

Niall Cooper punches clear

Extra time arrived with both sides having chances to nick it, with Braithwaite and Ruff having the best chances for Rugby and right at the end Niall Cooper produced a cracking double save to deny Angelo Franco, with Letford also dragging one just wide for the hosts.

On Tuesday evening, Wolves once more looked confident from the off, and could have scored after just three minutes when the unmarked Mitch Clarke headed over from a great position.

Cooper saved well from Hill shortly after, but the visitors did not have long to wait for their deserved opener when Delaney’s free-kick took a deflection off the wall to deceive Cooper before hitting the net.

The home side tried to recover from their slow start, but initially struggled to find a way past a resolute Wolverhampton defence – although Brathwaite did put in two strikes on goal, the first of which drew a decent parry from Gettings.

Cooper’s double save to efforts from Dimitri Dunkley and Hill preceded Town’s best spell of the half, which saw Gettings tip a Kolodynski header over the frame and then keep out a further on-target effort from Wiggins-Thomas, after James Dance had found the striker with a searching long pass.

However Sporting struck again on 37 minutes when Dan Scragg surged forward before finding Dunkley, who turned his man well before finding the bottom corner with a decent finish.

Fabian Smith quietens his marker!

Fabian Smith quietens his marker!

There was a quiet start to the second half, with Sean Castleton’s unsuccessful header at the back post twelve minutes into it the first significant goal threat from either side.

Letford put one into the side netting for Wolves on the counter, before Town’s pressure at the other end saw them win a series of corners, although these failed to generate any real opportunities.

The double introduction of Print and Shakespeare did at least provide the hosts with more threat in wide positions, and Dance lifted over Print’s cross to the far post.

Another Print centre saw the miss of the game, when Shakespeare also blazed over with the goal gaping and then Wiggins-Thomas headed Ruff’s corner onto the top of the bar.

Late on Wolves’ sub Grey had a decent effort blocked as Rugby committed players forward and Kolodynski also hit the side netting, before the final whistle confirmed the outcome of the tie – a deserved one on the balance of play throughout the two encounters.

Rugby line-up (original tie): Cooper, Thornton, Kelly, Dance, Castleton, Holloway (Belcher), Ashby (Print), Smith, Shakespeare (Braithwaite), Wiggins-Thomas, Ruff. Subs not used: Hall, Bodycote.

Rugby line-up (replay): Cooper, Thornton (Harris), Kelly, Dance, Castleton, Brathwaite, Hall (Shakespeare), Smith (Print), Kolodynski, Wiggins-Thomas, Ruff. Subs not used: Ashby, Bodycote

Goals (original tie): Thornton 74, Brathwaite 81

Wolverhampton line-ups: Gettings, Ellis, Delaney, Moore/Scragg, Barnes, Clarke, Dunkley, Franco, Hill, Northwood, Letford. Subs: Francis-Mills, Habbershaw, Evans, Grey, Brach, Scragg/McKerdy

Goals (original tie): Letford 72,Grey 86

Goals (replay): Delaney 7, Dunkley 37

Attendance (original tie): 107

Attendance (replay): 109

Rugby Star Man (original tie): Josh Ruff

Rugby Star Man (replay): James Dance