Evo-Stik League Southern – Central Division
Thatcham Town 0 Rugby Town 1
Rugby continued their promotion push on Easter Saturday with a narrow victory at struggling Thatcham for their ninth successive victory.
With the Monday match against Aylesbury in his thoughts, Dave Stringer rested Sam Youngs and Lewis McBride, with Richard Blythe and Andrew Spencer coming into the side.
Valley made the perfect start scoring with just 100 seconds on the clock, when Ellis Myles’s accurate cross found Spencer in space and he duly stroked the ball home.
Seb Lake-Gaskin nearly made it two just a minute later, but keeper Ashley West kept the home side in the match with a neat save.
With just twelve minutes gone, Rugby were awarded a penalty when David Kolodynski was brought down in the area by Matt Bowler.
The referee deemed the defender the last man and duly sent him off - much to the disgust of the sparse home following. Sam Belcher was tasked with increasing Rugby’s lead, but his soft penalty was comfortably saved.
The impetus remained with the visitors after this miss, but chances were limited – although Blythe and Lake-Gaskin did put in off-target efforts. At the other end, Thatcham only real shot of the half was a feeble one by Sam Hamilton.
After the interval, the pattern of the game remained the same with Valley still lacking the precise passing from recent matches – although in mitigation the playing surface was rather bumpy.
Their best chance came in the 57th minute when Kolodynski delivered a perfect cross, but Fazel Koriya could not stretch far enough to connect to it.
With the referee starting to spoil the game with a number of yellow cards, Rugby tried hard to get a second - with Kolodynski and sub McBride having late efforts.
Defensively they held firm against whatever Thatcham threw at them – which to be fair was not a lot, as the hosts failed to register anything on target for the whole of the second half.