There was a double cause celebration for Rugby Town supporters after Tuesday evening’s 3-2 Southern League Cup victory over Redditch at Butlin Road.
Not only did Dave Stringer’s side put in an impressive performance to dispatch one of the current Premier Division high fliers, but the game also marked a first start in a Valley shirt in nearly 21 months for their ex-skipper Robbie Banks.
Banks suffered a horrific double lower leg break at Royston back in February 2013, and the road to recovery since has been a long and problematic one for the popular midfielder.
The 27 year old has shown commendable perseverance to make a successful return to football, and hopefully he can go on to regain the form he showed before the potentially career-threatening injury struck.
Banks signed for the club in September 2011, making an impressive impact in his first season – capturing three player of the year awards.
His leg fracture came partway through a record breaking 2012/13 season for Rugby, which ultimately saw them finish runners-up in the Central Division and then just miss out on promotion in the play-off final.
The entire 2013/14 campaign was a write-off for Banks, but he has worked hard in early season training and - having finally had the all clear from his specialist - made a first brief appearance from the bench in the home victory over Godalming at the start of the month.
A longer run-out – again as a substitute – followed in the weekend 3-1 defeat at the hands of Aylesbury FC at Butlin Road, before he completed an hour of Tuesday’s successful cup tie.
Last Saturday’s reverse saw Rugby slip one place to ninth – with the gap between them and the play-off zone now back up to four points, so Town will be looking for a quick return to winning ways when they travel to Aylesbury United this weekend.
Rugby renewed rivalries with United last season after an eight-year break, winning the corresponding fixture 2-0 and then playing out a 1-1 draw in the Butlin Road return.
The Ducks ended the campaign in 12th, and a mixed start to the new one sees them in 14th – four points adrift of Town.
Stringer will be hoping that Seb Lake-Gaskin is fit again for the trip to the Bell Close Stadium United share with Leighton Town, after the striker missed the last two matches with an ankle injury.
Full-back Ben George will definitely be absent though, as he serves the final game of his three match ban.
l Saturday’s coach will leave Butlin Road at 12.15pm. For latest information, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.