RUGBY TOWN: Hanwell trip on Saturday

Will Grocott in the Westfields FA Cup game
Will Grocott in the Westfields FA Cup game
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Midweek local derby against Daventry

Rugby Town will welcome Chasetown to Butlin Road in the First Qualifying Round of the F.A.Cup a week Saturday (13th), after the Staffordshire club saw off fellow NPL South Division Newcastle Town in their midweek replay.

Whilst the county rivals were playing out their initial draw, Valley got their Preliminary Round duties over and done with at the first attempt with a 2-0 win at Westfields at the weekend – and they will also be joined in the next stage of the country’s premier football knock-out competition by twelve other teams from their own Southern League Central Division.

Ahead of that home cup tie, Town must first face up to two tough league fixtures though – with a visit to one of the early pace setters Hanwell this Saturday, before they host the local derby against Daventry next Tuesday (9th).

Rugby’s stuttering start to the new campaign sees them go into the weekend in 15th place, although they are still only three points off the play-off zone, with boss Dave Stringer having issued a challenge to his squad to step-up their game and match the high standards of the previous two years - where they recorded back-to-back runners-up finishes.

They did this in part at the weekend at Westfields, although it was the clinical finishing of strikers David Kolodynski and Seb Lake-Gaskin that ultimately gave them the edge – with Town still looking a little disjointed and short of their free-flowing best at times.

As has often been the case in recent years, Saturday’s opponents Hanwell have built on the momentum of a previous promotion season (having finished top of the South Midlands League in 2013/14) by starting this one well in registering four wins and a draw from their opening five league games – before falling to a 3-0 defeat in their sixth at home to North Greenford.

As a result, they sit in 2nd place behind leaders Kettering and they also boast the division’s top scorer in Lewis Putman, who has seven league goals to his name already - the same as the entire Rugby side combined.

The two sides have met once previously, when in 2006 the Middlesex club dumped Valley out of the F.A.Trophy, with Jason Taylor scoring for Town from the spot in a lacklustre 2-1 defeat.

Tuesday’s visitors to Butlin Road Daventry have also had a decent start to the 2014/15 campaign, with ten points from the opening six matches giving them a current sixth place berth.

They also qualified for the next round of the F.A.Cup after a disputed penalty settled their midweek replay at home to Ashford.

Rugby’s recent record against the local rivals has been mixed, although all the bright spots have come at Butlin Road – with four victories out of the five games there in the last four seasons, including a 2-1 success last Boxing Day thanks to a David Kolodynski brace.

The suspended Richard Blythe will miss both upcoming games as he finishes off his three match ban, although Stringer was able to include the available again Marcel Simpson at Westfields after he returned from holiday.

Simpson will therefore be hoping to line-up against his old Communications Park team-mates from last season, after the defender traded places in the summer with ex-Rugby man Nathan Haines.

Keeper Joe Mellings is another in the Valley line-up to have previously featured for the Northamptonshire club, whilst the current Daventry squad includes Josh O’Grady and Mitchell Piggon – both of whom were also at Butlin Road for a part of last season.

# The coach to Hanwell will leave the clubhouse at 11.00 a.m. on Saturday. For the latest information regarding availability of places contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.