RUGBY TOWN: Can Valley keep up winning run with visit of fifth-placed side?
Six wins in a row now, but still eight points behind league leaders
Having extended their winning run to six matches with a 2-1 success at struggling Wellingborough Whitworth, Rugby Town return to Butlin Road this Saturday when Pinchbeck are the visitors in the UCL Premier Division.
Many had expected a more convincing Valley victory against a side marooned at the bottom of the table with just eight points on the board, but not for the first time in recent weeks Rugby laboured their way to a three point haul - their 22nd of the campaign so far.
Pinchbeck are likely to provide an even stiffer test of Town’s mettle though, as they look to maintain a decent run of their own which has seen just one defeat from their last 13 outings in all competitions.
The Lincolnshire club currently sit in fifth place, having been promoted into this level following their UCL Division One title success at the end of the 2017/18 season.
The reverse fixture between two sides at Spalding’s Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field in November was a tetchy, bruising affair, in which Rugby showed good character to earn a 3-0 victory - thanks to goals from Liam Francis, Lewis Rankin and Fazel Koriya.
With an eye to the possible physical nature of the return game on Saturday, Valley boss Carl Adams rested midfielder Dom Perkins at Wellingborough to ensure he did not pick up his tenth league booking - which would trigger a two-match suspension if it arrives.
Adams also chose not to risk fellow midfield man Richard Bunting against Whitworth, although the ex-AFC Rushden man continues to recover well from his recurring groin problem.
Rugby will be without Koriya for the rest of the season though, after Adams confirmed the 35-year-old was leaving the country for work reasons. Koriya returned to Town for a third spell at the club in November and has scored six times in 11 starts and three appearances from the bench.
Whilst Harry Holloway returns to the Valley squad this weekend, the departure of Koriya may prompt Adams into adding to his roster ahead of the cut-off point at the end of March, as he looks to keep the pressure on league leaders Daventry.
However the Northamptonshire side are still to show any significant signs of imploding, after brushing aside Deeping Rangers at Communications Park last Saturday.
Rangers’ title aspirations had already taken a dent a fortnight ago when Rugby enjoyed a 3-0 success against them, and they followed this up with a 4-1 defeat in another top of the table clash.
Last weekend’s results saw Daventry maintain their eight-point advantage over Valley, with Deeping now a further three points adrift in third - although both Rugby and Deeping have a game in hand over the table toppers.
Daventry travel to ninth placed Desborough this Saturday, with Deeping hosting eighth placed Newport Pagnell.
# Town are home again next weekend (March 16) when they face another current top half team Eynesbury, before successive away fixtures against two teams in the lower portion - Sleaford and Boston.