Two away games this week
A resurgent Rugby Town made it four straight wins at the weekend against Uxbridge, with Justin Marsden’s 50th league goal in a Valley shirt separating the two sides in the end.
As a result, Town continue to close the gap between them and the top four in the Southern League Central Division – whilst also maintaining a four point advantage on sixth placed Royston.
Having started the 2014/15 campaign with five defeats in their opening eleven league games, Rugby have gone on to lose only twice more in their fifteen subsequent outings – with both of these defeats at the hands of second placed Aylesbury FC.
Valley boss Dave Stringer accepted that Saturday’s win was far from a classic performance, but was understandably happy to keep up the recent momentum.
He said: “It wasn’t a particularly good game for us and we didn’t necessarily play the same free-flowing football that we have of late, but it was still a great three points to get.
“They (Uxbridge) were a form side coming into the match, but overall I believe we got what we deserved. We got early goals in both halves, but unlike last week we took our foot off the pedal at times, and then conceded two sloppy ones at the other end.
“However we dug in well and I give credit to the lads for that. They know they haven’t played as well as they can, but overall there’s a positive and happy vibe in the dressing room at the moment.”
Rugby will look to extend their winning streak this Saturday at 18th placed Bedford, as they start a run of matches against teams in the bottom half of the table.
Bedford have struggled in their first season back in the Central Division, following their relegation from the Premier at the end of 2013/14.
Valley won the reverse fixture 3-2 at Butlin Road back in August, although the Eagles still have the edge on the head-to-head league match-ups with five victories to Rugby’s four – with two other drawn games.
Lewis Rankin made a welcome return to action at the weekend, after missing out for a month with a hamstring injury, although defender Mason Rowley did limp off towards the end of the game – further increasing Stringer’s potential injury woes at the back.
However Stringer was more than pleased with the contribution of recent signing Richard Gregory up-front, with the ex-Stratford man opening his account at his new club with virtually his first touch of the game.
He added: “You can’t ask more from Richard than a debut goal. He’s not played a lot of football recently and I thought he looked pretty sharp considering.
“It’s great for him to get 90 minutes under his belt and I’m sure he will make an impact here. His record matches anybody at this level.”
After the trip to Bedford, Town then host 20th placed Beaconsfield a week Saturday (24th January), with games against Aylesbury United, St.Ives, Leighton and Marlow in 16th, 13th, 19th and 14th places respectively to follow this.
Stringer continued: “We’ve come through a difficult period and managed to pick up more points than perhaps some people would have expected – especially with the injury problems that we have had.
“If you look at the games we have got coming up now, you would say they are all definitely winnable, but it’s important that we take it one game at a time and try and keep the pressure on the teams above us.”
# By achieving his half century milestone, Marsden also moved ahead of Ian Crawley in the club’s Southern League goalscoring charts. The thirty year old rejoined Town at the beginning of last season, having previously left in 2005 and go on to feature for Solihull, Telford, Nuneaton, Leamington and Barwell.
Marsden is now up to sixth in the league goal list, behind current team-mate Seb Lake-Gaskin (53 goals), Ashley Warner (63), Danny Conway (66), his original strike partner Robbie Beard (84) and the recently departed David Kolodynski (124).
# Tuesday evening’s third round league cup tie at Biggleswade was postponed for a second time due to a waterlogged pitch. The game has been rearranged again for next Tuesday (20th).
# The club coach to Bedford on Saturday will leave Butlin Road at 12 mid-day, and the Biggleswade one at 5pm.