FOOTBALL PICTURES: Rugby Town draw 1-1 at third-placed hosts

Scorer Stuart Hendrie skips a tackle
Scorer Stuart Hendrie skips a tackle

Valley earn point against promotion-chasing Worcester

PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Remie Birch impressed at left back

Remie Birch impressed at left back

Midland Football League – Premier Division

Worcester City 1 Rugby Town 1

Rugby were good value for a point against promotion-chasing Worcester on Saturday, after Stuart Hendrie’s goal on the stroke of half-time cancelled out the hosts’ 22nd-minute opener.

Both sides had decent opportunities to secure the win after the break, but on the balance of play a draw was a fair result for this entertaining affair at Bromsgrove’s Victoria Ground.

Niall Cooper tips the ball over the bar

Niall Cooper tips the ball over the bar

Remi Birch returned to Town’s starting line-up at full-back in place of Aiden Print in the only change from the previous weekend’s win at Coventry Sphinx, and Birch was soon in the action – putting enough pressure on Hamilton Chiwara to ensure his header at the back post went wide.

The home side’s positive start continued, with Dave Reynolds heading one onto the roof of the net and George Forsyth seeing his header tipped away by Niall Cooper – after Valley’s keeper had initially made a hash of his punch to Nathan Hayward’s corner.

A wayward Hendrie strike was the visitors’ only chance ahead of City breaking the deadlock, when Reynolds executed an impressive overhead kick finish to Alex Tomkinson’s centre.

Town responded well to the setback though, with Harry Holloway showing good feet on the edge of the penalty area before his shot was blocked out.

Harry Holloway in midfield

Harry Holloway in midfield

David Kolodynski then played in Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, who took the ball cleverly in his stride only to lift it over the bar with just Worcester keeper Matt Gwynne to beat.

Gwynne saved Kolodynski’s low strike after Josh Ruff had released the Rugby striker, and then Hendrie and Kolodynski combined well to set-up Wiggins-Thomas at the near post, but his sliding attempt was blocked.

Therefore it was a just reward for the away side when Hendrie rolled the ball between Gwynne and Jordan Stoddart to equalise in the 45th minute, after Wiggins-Thomas had turned his marker in the box and picked out his team mate with his cut back.

The first opportunity of the new period also fell Town’s way, when Wiggins-Thomas did well down the left flank to cross to Kolodynski whose goalbound flick produced a fine reflex stop from Gwynne, with Hendrie putting the rebound effort off-target.

Josh Ruff put in another energetic performance

Josh Ruff put in another energetic performance

The hosts then put in a series of efforts which failed to trouble Cooper, with Ben Robinson dragging one wide, substitute Ethan Moran lifting a pair of shots over and Tomkinson another to twice miss the target with his strikes.

Gwynne turned a Wiggins-Thomas shot around the post after Hendrie had burst forward on a Valley counter-attack, and Sean Castleton should really have done better with his header at the back post – but he could only help the ball wide.

A Ruff free-kick from thirty yards tested Gwynne as the visitors continued to enjoy an encouraging spell, with Sam Belcher then rattling the underside of the crossbar with a super strike – only to see the ball bounce down away to safety.

Further chances came Town’s way in this phase of the game, including a turned down penalty appeal for what looked to be a trip on Ruff and a missed one-on-one when Kolodynski shot straight at Gwynne following Ruff’s neat through pass.

Worcester ended the game the stronger though, with Cooper saving Joel Ambalu’s shot with his legs and defender Mark Smith twice going close with headers – first glancing a Mark Danks’ corner against the woodwork and then somehow diverting Hayward’s cross wide in the closing moments.

On Tuesday evening (April 10) seventh-placed Rugby Town are at home to Sporting Khalsa, who are fifth. Kick-off 7.45pm.

David Kolodynski shoots

David Kolodynski shoots

Sam Belcher rattled the bar late on

Sam Belcher rattled the bar late on