Lewis McBride star man at Butlin Road
Evo-Stik Southern League – Central Division
Rugby Town 1
Bedworth United 0
There was plenty of Christmas spirit from Rugby Town, as they battled bravely to a three point haul against local rivals Bedworth in the Boxing Day clash at Butlin Road.
After a below par first half display, Valley then took the lead early in the second – thanks to Robbie Burns’ 48th minute header, before standing firm against a United side that went into the game in second place in the table.
Rugby made three changes from the previous outing at Aylesbury, with Ben George and Lewis McBride returning to the line-up, and stand-in keeper Neil Collett replacing the unavailable Richard Morris.
The Greenbacks had two ex-Town men – Ben Steane and Nathan Haines – in the starting eleven, with three more on the bench, and it was the visitors that made the bulk of the early play, with Daniel Dubidat, Daniel Creaney and Luke Rowe all threatening the goal.
Dubidat dragged another decent chance wide, before Rugby’s first real opening saw Justin Marsden just fail to make contact to a cross from the left, which then gave Burns the opportunity of a shot – but his effort was deflected away for a corner.
It was a typically tight and scrappy derby on the whole in the first half, although United’s Alex Naughton had one further chance ahead of the interval when his long range strike was also deflected past the post.
The second period was a much more pulsating affair, with both sides notably upping the tempo after the restart.
Bedworth were almost ahead within just one minute of the new half, when Rowe’s header to Jamie Ashmore’s cross rattled the post.
However it was the hosts that broke the deadlock shortly after, when Burns perfectly met Sam Youngs’ corner from the right, directing the ball past keeper Denham Hinds and into the net – despite the best efforts of United’s Andrew Westwood on the line.
Dubidat should then have levelled things up, but he headed Rowe’s delivery into the box over the target from close range. Whilst they were generally on the back foot, Valley did at times look to threaten on the break, and in one counter-attack Youngs’ low skidder from the edge of the penalty area tested Hinds.
Dubidat had two further chances, the second of which saw Collett off his line quickly to gather the Greenbacks’ leading scorer’s first-time effort, whilst at the other end it was Youngs again that broke free – but his two back-to-back strikes were pushed away by Hinds.
As conditions continued to deteriorate, with the driving rain first replaced by sleet and then by a snow flurry, Town’s defence dug in doggedly for the visitors’ inevitable late onslaught.
Collett pulled out an excellent flying save to turn Naughton’s free-kick onto the bar, and Dubidat pulled another one wide, with Bedworth’s final chance seeing Ben George do well to clear Naughton’s dangerous cross away to safety.
Rugby line-up & ratings:
Collett 7, Banks 6 (Piggon 6), Kelly 6, Rowley 7, George 7, Grocott 6, McBride 7, Blythe 6, Burns 7, Marsden 6 (Lake-Gaskin 6), Youngs 7. Subs not used: Bishop, Smith, McEnroe
Goal: Burns 48
Hinds, Ashmore, Rowe, Creaney, Haines, Albrighton, Westwood, Dubidat, Naughton, Steane. Subs: Bevas, Blenkinsopp, Tullin, Degville-Cross, Robinson
Goalden Goal Winner: 48 – No winner, prize fund rolled over
Rugby Star Man: Lewis McBride