FOOTBALL: First game in charge for caretaker manager Moran

Gary Moran playing for Rugby Town in 2010
Gary Moran playing for Rugby Town in 2010

Jepson lasts 13 days longer than last season’s rookie boss Mills

The managerial merry-go-round continues at Butlin Road following the resignation of Rugby Town boss James Jepson at the weekend.

James Jepson

James Jepson

Jepson quit on the back of Valley’s 6-0 drubbing in the FA Cup at Brackley citing personal reasons for the decision, after just over four months in charge at Butlin Road.

The 34 year old was embarking on his first managerial appointment after a long non-league playing career, but was absent from the heavy defeat due to a pre-arranged holiday. He emailed the club his decision on Saturday evening though, and it is believed that he felt that the impact and demands that the role was having on his home and work life were too great.

The club have appointed former player Gary Moran as caretaker manager for the interim period whilst they continue their search for a long-term appointment.

Moran – also 34 – has made over 200 appearances for Valley in two previous spells at the club, and had signed up for a third towards the end of last week, but was cup-tied for the Brackley trip.

Goalkeeper Louis Connor had a tough afternoon at Brackley   PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Goalkeeper Louis Connor had a tough afternoon at Brackley PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

The Rugby-born defender had started the season at Midland Football League club Coventry United after three successful campaigns at Stratford, where he had captained the team to their Southern League Midland Division promotion and was also a part of manager Carl Adams’ backroom staff.

The departure of Jepson mirrors the start of Town’s 2015/16 season, when another rookie manager Gary Mills left around the same time with Rugby struggling near the foot of the NPL South Division.

Mills was replaced by Dale Belford, who guided the club to a respectable ninth placed finish before the two parties split by mutual consent in the summer.

Jepson’s tenure lasted just 13 days longer than Mills’ total, and he leaves the club in a similar predicament in the league with just four points from five games and in joint 20th position in the table.

Jamie Tank in defence in Valley's FA Cup defeat at Brackley

Jamie Tank in defence in Valley's FA Cup defeat at Brackley

Moran’s first task sees him face games at Lincoln United this Saturday and at Spalding next Tuesday, as Rugby complete a run of four successive fixtures away from Butlin Road.

Unlike Valley, United managed to pull off a giant-killing feat in the cup last weekend by returning from another National League North side Nuneaton with a 2-1 victory. However they too have struggled a bit in the league so far, and are just a point ahead of Town.

The two sides met three times in 2015/16, with the clubs sharing the spoils with a victory each and a draw. The corresponding game at Ashby Avenue in April did see the hosts register a 3-1 success over a lacklustre Town though.

Tuesday’s opponents have had a cracking start to their league campaign, and currently top the division with six wins from seven unbeaten outings to-date. Last season’s games saw Rugby recommence battle with the Tulips after a thirteen year gap, and they played out two 1-1 draws in them.

Nathan Fox at speed against Brackley

Nathan Fox at speed against Brackley

Moran will of course be speaking to his newly-inherited squad over his first week to discuss future plans, but with many players sharing a personal connection with Jepson, there are likely to be some early departures from the fold.

Town Director Neil Melvin reflected on the latest managerial upheaval, which also sees Jepson’s experienced right-hand man John Ramshaw leave. He said: “We are disappointed that the appointment has not worked out the way we had all hoped.

“We accept that there is a risk to recruiting a manager with limited experience, but we thought in James we had identified the type of progressive, committed and fresh candidate that we were seeking for a long-term tenure at the club.

“We would like to place on record our thanks for all his efforts in his short time here and wish him well in the future.

“We are grateful to Gary for stepping in to take the job on in the short-term. He knows the club and the local non-league scene well and hopefully he can steady the ship for us in the meantime.”

# The club coach to Lincoln will leave Butlin Road at 11 a.m. and the Spalding one at 4.45pm.