RUGBY TOWN: Three more games this week as Valley slip to tenth

Trip to Sphinx on Saturday, home to Loughborough Uni on Easter Monday and away at Coventry United on Wednesday

Thursday, 29th March 2018, 8:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th March 2018, 8:50 pm
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas dribbles into the box against Westfields last weekend PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

There is no let up for Dave Stringer’s Rugby Town side over the coming week, as they enter the run-in of their inaugural season in the Midland Football League.

Weather allowing - last night (Wednesday’s) fixture at Shawbury represented their third within a week, and the Easter weekend sees them make the short trip to Coventry Sphinx on Saturday before hosting Loughborough University on Bank Holiday Monday (April 2) in a 3pm kick-off.

Stuart Hendrie in Town's game with Westfields

Town are then sent to Coventry once more next Wednesday (4th) for a second game of the campaign at the Butts Park Arena against Coventry United.

Valley suffered the tenth single-goal margin defeat of their MFL Premier Division season at Butlin Road last Saturday on the back of a 1-1 draw at Stourport two days previously.

In both encounters, David Kolodynski had given Rugby the lead, but five points were ultimately sacrificed after the two sets of opposition found a way back into the games.

Town had managed to hold onto seventh place after the weekend loss, but Tuesday evening’s fixtures saw them slip to ninth after wins for Long Eaton and Heanor.

Stuart Hendrie in Town's game with Westfields

Unless there is a turnaround in fortunes in their remaining eight-game schedule, Valley could easily end their first season at this level in the bottom half of the table – with the three clubs immediately below having a number of games in hand over them.

First up is a third game of the season against Sphinx, with Rugby holding the upper hand from the previous two at Butlin Road after a 0-0 league draw and a 2-1 cup success within a September fortnight.

The league encounter was marred by the broken leg suffered by Town defender Mason Rowley, although the 25- year-old recently returned to the squad and made his first start since the injury in the Stourport draw.

A Tevin Shakespeare double then secured Rugby a place in the next round of the league cup, so the currently sixth placed hosts will be out for revenge at Sphinx Drive this weekend.

Coventry’s squad includes two of Valley’s roster from last year in Charlie Faulkner and Chris Sterling, with other Town old-boys Jamie Towers and Aaron Stringfellow also regulars in their line-up.

Easter Monday’s home game against the University side gives Stringer the chance to complete a rare double this season, after Rugby’s comfortable 3-1 victory against the students at the start of 2018.

Second half goals from Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, Kolodynski and Sam Belcher kicked off what turned out to be a perfect month for Town, before the four successive defeats in February ruled out any hopes of a late promotion bid.

Loughborough currently sit in 18th position in the rankings – five points and two places above the division’s relegation zone.

Wednesday’s game at United also represents a third meeting for the two clubs this season. Town opened their 2017/18 affairs with a victory in Coventry in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup thanks to a Kolodynski double, and the two sides then played a tight 0-0 draw at Butlin Road in the league in October.

United’s squads in the two games to-date have already included ten ex-Rugby players in total, and whilst some of these have subsequently moved on, another Valley favourite Kevin Thornton has returned there recently and could feature against his old club.

Town will be without striker Sam Lockley and full-back Craig Kelly for the remainder of the campaign, with Lockley on crutches after suffering a broken ankle and Kelly’s ongoing injury problems seeing him ruling himself out too.

Meanwhile at the summit of Rugby’s division, Bromsgrove’s 6-0 thrashing of Butlin Road’s next visitors Loughborough along with Coleshill’s defeat at Highgate on Tuesday evening saw them swap places at the top. However with a gap of ten points to third place Worcester, it is still likely that the current leading pair will remain in situ come the end of April and fill the two potential promotion places in the process.

# The weekly Town car boot sale in the Butlin Road car park kicked off for another term last Sunday, and will be running again this weekend with a 7am start for those looking to take advantage of a rare opportunity for some Easter Sunday retail therapy. Refreshments are available.