Despite their convincing midweek cup victory, Rugby Town’s struggles in the league continue to frustrate manager Dave Stringer, writes Jon Venner
Last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with St Ives meant it was now just two wins in the last nine league outings for Stringer’s side – with the last league victory at Butlin Road now nearly two months ago.
Tuesday evening’s 3-1 League Cup success at Bedworth at least confirmed Stringer’s belief that he does have a talented squad of players at his disposal, but he accepted there was much work to be done to rediscover the form that they had shown in the two previous campaigns.
He said:“We’ve been plagued by inconsistency this season and there is doubt we are falling short of what is required.
“Saturday pretty much summed things up so far, where we started well and got ahead, then conceded through a dreadful individual error and then despite trying to lift everyone at half-time, I felt our performance just fizzled out.”
Town face further cup action this weekend with the visit of Stafford Rangers in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy, and Stringer will be focusing his efforts on his players’ confidence levels in the run up to the game.
He continued: “We just look a little fragile mentally at the moment, so we will be working hard in training to give them the boost they need.
“Whilst this group have been brilliant for me over the past couple of seasons, if this continues much longer we will undoubtedly have to look at bringing in some new faces – and to do this within the budget, it would also mean the same number moving on.
“I would of course prefer to work it through with the squad we have, but we can’t let the gap between us and the top five get much bigger.”
Saturday’s opponents Stafford play at the same level as Valley in the Northern (Premier) League, and have started the season well – currently lying in sixth place.
Kyle Bishop was withdrawn with a head injury late in Tuesday’s game at the Oval, but is expected to be available for selection, although Stringer may have lost Jamie Towers by then – after the club confirmed they had received a seven day approach for him from Stafford Rangers.
Robbie Banks’ long rehabilitation from a broken leg is hopefully nearing a successful conclusion though. The midfielder has featured as an unused substitute recently, and Stringer hopes to be able introduce him to full match action very soon.
He explained: “It has had to be gently, gently with Robbie, and we don’t want to push him too hard – but he has certainly come a long way. He has been training well for a few weeks now, and he has another appointment with a specialist this week which will determine whether he is now ready for some minutes on the pitch.”