RUGBY TOWN: Celebration and frustration from Valley’s wet weekend

Goalkeeper Niall Cooper
Goalkeeper Niall Cooper

Worcester City and Sporting Khalsa games this week

Whilst the inclement weather continues to disrupt the Midland Football League schedule, Rugby Town did at least manage to play two games over the past week – including recording a first victory in five outings on Saturday.

David Kolodynski

David Kolodynski

The local derby triumph over Coventry Sphinx was Town’s first win in five MFL attempts and the three points lifted them up two places in the Premier Division to seventh.

The 3-1 Sphinx positive return came three days on from a 1-0 defeat at struggling Shawbury, with Valley prevented from rounding off a successful Easter holiday weekend when Monday’s Butlin Road match-up with Loughborough University was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Town had nearly suffered the same fate for the Sphinx fixture, where the pitch was first deemed playable after a morning inspection but then ruled not so just ahead of the planned 3pm. kick-off.

However the diligent last minute efforts of the Coventry side’s groundstaff and others volunteers ensured the game went ahead – albeit a quarter of an hour later than scheduled.

Further rain over the weekend meant that Valley’s home match on Monday was always going to be called off – with large parts of the pitch water laden. With more rain forecasted in the region, there is therefore significant doubt whether last night’s (Wednesday) trip to Coventry United’s Butts Park Arena would survive either, especially after the hosts suffered postponements to both of their games there on Saturday and Monday.

Rugby are relatively fortunate to now only have seven games remaining (assuming the Coventry United one does fall foul of the weather), whereas the likes of United and Stourport would have thirteen to squeeze in before the planned season cut-off date on the 28th of April. It is no surprise therefore that there is speculation the league may extend the term to allow clubs to complete their fixtures more easily.

Valley travel to third placed Worcester this Saturday, just over two months on from the reverse fixture at Butlin Road which saw City win thanks a solitary second-half goal by Dave Reynolds in a game then marred by some particularly tedious gamesmanship by the visitors, as they looked to protect their advantage.

Worcester currently play their home fixtures at Bromsgrove’s Victoria Ground and they have ex Premier League footballer Lee Hughes as one of their joint managers, with the one-time West Brom and Coventry City striker also featuring regularly as a player for them this season.

Tuesday (10th April) evening then sees Rugby host Sporting Khalsa for a 7.45pm kick-off. Town returned from the Aspray Arena with a 2-1 victory against the Willenhall-based outfit in their first ever MFL fixture back in August, thanks to goals from skipper James Dance and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas.

Only four of Rugby’s thirteen man squad from the Sphinx victory at the weekend were not part of that inaugural matchday player pool, despite the many comings and goings Valley fans have witnessed this season.

Khalsa spent much of the 2017/18 campaign in contention for one of the two possible promotion berths, but their form of late has been less consistent and their last league outing – a 0-0 home draw with Sphinx – was their fourth successive game without a win – a run that has seen them slip to 5th in the table.

Town’s Sam Beasley missed the Sphinx game serving the first of a two game suspension for totting up ten bookings this season – six of them since his move from Stourport to Rugby in January.

The midfielder will therefore have completed his ban at Coventry if that game went ahead or if not, he will miss the trip to Worcestershire.

Valley’s Stuart Hendrie finally ended his blank run in front of goal at the club after notching two in sixteenth appearance in a Rugby shirt at the weekend. Hendrie signed for Rugby in January having scored prolifically for MFL Division Two team Montpelier and also registered 28 goals in a season for Basford at Town’s current level in 2014/15.

Meanwhile at the top of the table, Bromsgrove Sporting’s six point Easter weekend haul – including a 4-2 win against their nearest challengers Coleshill – saw them establish a seven point advantage over the rest of the division.

At the bottom, Shawbury’s victory over Valley last Wednesday was followed by a further win and a draw to help lift them out of the three team relegation zone – which is now occupied by Haughmond, South Normanton and Rocester.

# The club coach to Worcester on Saturday will leave Butlin Road at 11.45am. For latest information contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.