Back-to-back away games at Newport Pagnell and Wellingborough Town
Picture by Martin Pulley
Rugby Town finally surrendered their perfect home UCL record last weekend, when they dropped two points in the 1-1 result against Deeping Rangers.
The draw ended a sequence of seven straight wins for Valley in their new league’s Premier Division, and with league leaders Daventry grinding out yet another single goal margin success at the same time at Harborough, the gap between the two sides has now been extended to 12 points.
Town visit 15th placed Newport Pagnell in their first return fixture of the campaign on Saturday, whilst Daventry host another bottom-half side Wellingborough Town, with Rugby then due at Wellingborough the following weekend when Daventry have another home fixture against struggling Kirby Muxloe.
Valley and their high flying near neighbours then meet at Butlin Road on Boxing Day for what could prove to be a season defining game for Carl Adams’ men.
Adams agreed that his side deserved little from last Saturday’s encounter, although to be fair they did put in a more improved second half performance after a generally lacklustre opening period.
Town have now drawn two and lost two of their 15 UCL fixtures played to-date, with Daventry drawing two and losing one of their 18 outings.
The point taken home from Butlin Road by a more-than-useful looking Deeping outfit kept them in fourth in the table, whilst Holbeach kept up their recent fine form with a 7-0 thrashing of the division’s current whipping boys Wellingborough Whitworth to maintain their third place berth.
Saturday’s hosts Pagnell were engaged in FA Vase duty at the weekend - duly qualifying for the fourth round of the competition with a 2-0 win at Hullbridge Sports of the Essex Senior League.
Rugby met the Swans for the first time in the two clubs’ history back at the start of October, when Town eased to a 4-0 victory thanks to goals from Romario Martin, Lewis Rankin, Danico Johnson and Charlie Evans.
Johnson was back on the scoresheet again against Deeping when he gave the hosts a 47th minute lead with his 20th of the season in all competitions, but Valley just could not hold on when Rangers struck with just two minutes remaining.
Town’s leading scorer remains just one yellow card away from a one match ban, although if he manages to evade it until the end of December he will in turn escape an immediate sanction too - as the suspension trigger point goes up to ten bookings.
Rankin started the weekend game on the bench after picking up an ankle injury, but having played the last few minutes of the draw, it is hoped he will be fully fit again for the trip to Buckinghamshire.
Player/assistant-manager Justin Marsden was also named as a substitute for the first time for a number of weeks following his muscular injury, but full-back Trey Brathwaite was unavailable and may be again this Saturday.
Saturday’s fixture will see a quick return to the Willen Road ground for Town’s Fazel Koriya, after the forward left there to sign for Valley for a third spell last month.
Koriya scored more than thirty goals for Newport last season, as they secured a third placed finish in the UCL Premier Division.
The 35-year-old featured for them as a substitute in the Butlin Road reverse fixture, before making the switch and then scoring in both of his first two outings in a Valley shirt.
# The club coach to Newport Pagnell will leave from outside Rugby School at 11.40am and then from Butlin Road at 12noon.
For latest information, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.
# Town will now travel to Cogenhoe on Saturday, January 5 in a rearranged fixture following the recent postponement of the game due to waterlogged pitch.