Valley keen to reverse result from back in September
Martin Pulley’s pictures from Rugby Town’s Boxing Day derby 2-0 defeat by Daventry
Rugby Town bring the curtain down on their year with the visit of Oadby to Butlin Road on Saturday (December 29).
The fixture ends another eventful 12 months for Valley, in which they have featured in two different leagues under two managers following their relegation down to step 5 of the non-league football pyramid a season and a half ago.
2018 had started well under previous boss Dave Stringer, as Town launched an unbeaten January with a comfortable 3-1 victory at Loughborough University.
However any hopes of an immediate bounceback out of the Midland Football League Premier Division disappeared after a point-less February, and Rugby eventually finished a somewhat flattering sixth place come the end of the campaign.
A switch to the United Counties League and the arrival of the ambitious Carl Adams at the helm in the summer appears to be paying dividends though, and despite their 2-0 Boxing Day local derby defeat at home to leaders Daventry, Valley will enter the new calendar year with a realistic chance of returning to step 4 of the structure.
Wednesday’s game saw Rugby go behind to a 67th-minute penalty and 85th-minute winner, with Dominic Perkins sent off after a second yellow card in between.
Adams has executed virtually a full makeover of the Town line-up since his appointment, although a number of familiar faces do form part of his squad - including Richard Blythe, Justin Marsden, Lewis Rankin and Fazel Koriya all returning for a multiple spell at the club.
Rugby extended their unbeaten league run to 12 games with a gritty 2-1 victory at Wellingborough Town last weekend, when despite the early sending off of defender Liam Francis they had enough quality to see off the mid-table hosts - thanks in no small part to a second consecutive two goal contribution from Rankin.
Town suffered a defeat at the hands of this weekend’s visitors from Leicestershire back in the middle of September, when Adams’s side put in a below par display in losing 2-1 to an Oadby team who played the last half an hour of the game with ten men following the dismissal of Sam Hollis.
The Poachers went into the Christmas schedule in 8th place in the table and nine points behind Rugby, whilst division leaders Daventry were warming up for the Boxing Day clash with a 3-1 home success over Kirby Muxloe, with those two clubs meeting each other again this Saturday in the reverse fixture.
Oadby make their first appearance at Butlin Road for more than sixteen years, after the two sides met in an FA Cup qualifying round replay in September 2002.
Tony Dobson’s Rugby lost 3-2 in that game with Danny Hall and Robbie Beard scoring for the hosts, after Hall grabbed a double in a 2-2 draw in the original tie.
Francis will start a three match ban this Saturday for his sending-off at Wellingborough, which could mean a switch back into central defence for Dom Perkins.
# Town kick-off 2019 with two away fixtures at Cogenhoe and Northampton ON Chenecks on the 5th and 12th of January respectively, before ending the month with a trio of home outings against Leicester Nirvana, Peterborough Northern Star and Kirby Muxloe.