RUGBY TOWN: FA Cup trip to Brackley on Saturday

Manager James Jepson not happy at Sheffield on Saturday    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Manager James Jepson not happy at Sheffield on Saturday PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Jepson’s assistant Ramshaw in charge for 2nd Qualifying Round tie

It is back to the FA Cup for Rugby Town this weekend, after last Saturday’s disappointing NPL South Division defeat at Sheffield.

Nathan Fox played on the left wing in Saturday's 4-2 defeat at Sheffield

Nathan Fox played on the left wing in Saturday's 4-2 defeat at Sheffield

For the second time in just three away league fixtures to-date, Valley threw away a two-goal lead in South Yorkshire, but unlike the previous occasion when they at least returned with a point from Gresley on the season’s opening day, this time Town capitulated to suffer a 4-2 reverse and slipped down to 19th place in the table as a result.

For the second year running in the nation’s favourite sporting knock-out competition, Rugby travel to National League North side Brackley this Saturday.

Last time round at the Third Round Qualifying stage, they came within a whisker of a famous victory at St James’ Park, with Brackley’s Steve Diggin grabbing a dramatic 97th minute equaliser to deny Valley a place in the final qualifying round, after Callum Powell had earlier broken the deadlock in Northamptonshire.

Dale Belford’s side lost out 2-0 in the replay at Butlin Road three days later, but not until David Kolodynski had missed a penalty with the visitors’ lead at just one goal.

This time the two sides meet a round earlier, and Rugby will be looking for a first ever win over the Saints at the 11th attempt.

Town boss James Jepson – who will miss the match due to a previously arranged commitment – is confident his side will give a good account of themselves against the team two levels above them in the non-league pyramid.

He said: “Obviously we would have preferred a home draw, but we will go there and give it our best shot.

“Being the underdogs we have nothing to lose. We will fight for each other like we did in the previous round against another side in a higher division than us, and then try and play a bit when we can.

“We have a few that have played at Brackley’s level in recent years, so there’s nothing to be scared of and the pressure should all be on them.”

Jepson’s experienced assistant John Ramshaw will take charge in his absence, and they will both be hoping that Andy Hall and Darryl Thomas can shake off the injuries that ruled them out of the Sheffield outing, with Louis Hamilton another close to a return from his ongoing injury issues.

Jake Woolley serves the final match of his three game ban though and Edi Appleton is cup-tied.

One-time Valley favourites Alex Gudger and Ellis Myles are likely to start for Saturday’s hosts, having both signed for the club in the summer.

Brackley’s 3-0 defeat against Worcester on Tuesday was only their second in eleven league outings this season and saw them drop to 8th place in the National League North table.

# The originally scheduled home game against AFC Rushden & Diamonds next Tuesday (20th) has been cancelled, due to the opponents’ potential county cup commitments.

Should Town’s tie at Brackley end all square, then the replay would be played on that date instead.

# The draw for the First Round of the Birmingham Senior Cup has given Rugby a home fixture against Tividale. The tie is due to be played on Tuesday, October 25, with the rearranged Rushden game set for November 8.

# The club coach to Brackley on Saturday will leave Butlin Road at 12.30pm.