Trips to Chasetown and Loughborough this week
Rugby Town will be hoping that Tuesday evening’s Birmingham Senior Cup victory against Tividale provides the boost their season needs, as they return to league action this weekend in a rescheduled fixture at Chasetown.
The 1-0 cup success was their first in 11 attempts and came on the back of another NPL South Division defeat last Saturday when they fell to the only goal of the game at home to Belper.
The Belper loss left Valley rooted to the foot of the table, with just one win from their 11 league outings and just seven goals in them to-date.
It is now more than six hours since Town found the net in a league fixture when Jake Woolley scored at Spalding at the end of September, but hopefully Leigh Phillips’ tie winning strike in the midweek cup win has given them the push needed to rediscover their shooting boots in Staffordshire this Saturday.
Chasetown are managed by ex-Valley boss Dave Stringer, and the four-year incumbent in the Rugby hot-seat was in the Butlin Road crowd on Tuesday watching his upcoming opponents.
Stringer’s side did the double over Dale Belford’s Rugby line-up last season, following up on a 3-2 success at Butlin Road in November with a 3-1 one at the Scholars Ground in April – with the latter defeat effectively ending Town’s outside chance of a place in the play-offs at the time.
The Scholars have had a good start to this campaign too and are currently seventh in table, although they go into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat last weekend at Stamford, with ex-Rugby man Josh Ruff on-target for the visitors, and their current squad also features three further Valley old boys – Mitch Piggon, Matt Curley and Mason Rowley.
Town then travel to Loughborough on Tuesday evening for another NPL fixture, where they will be looking for revenge for last season’s 6-1 thrashing in Rugby’s first ever game in their new league structure.
Despite this excellent start, Dynamo went on to narrowly avoid relegation at the end of the 2015/16 campaign though, and have started the new one with just three wins in fourteen games – leaving them in 19th position, six points ahead of Valley.
Town boss Gary Moran will be hoping to have Craig Kelly back in the fold for the weekend, after the full-back missed the last two games through illness, whilst David Kolodynski should return after he again sat out the midweek game due to a hamstring injury.
He could partner up with new signing Chris Sterling, who made his debut against his old club Tividale. The 30 year old striker netted more than 20 goals last season for Tuesday’s defeated opponents, having also top scored alongside Moran at Stratford the previous term when they earned promotion to the Southern League Premier Division.
# Elsewhere in the NPL structure, Premier Division Corby named ex-Valley boss Gary Mills as their new manager last week. Mills was in charge at Butlin Road for just a month of the 2015/16 campaign before resigning, and one of his first moves was to sign another short-lived Valley manager James Jepson as a player.
Jepson of course lasted a similar time in the Town hot-seat this season, before also bailing out prematurely and he made his debut from the bench in Mills’ first game as boss – a 2-0 home defeat to Nantwich – last Saturday.
# The coach to Chasetown will leave the clubhouse at 11.45 a.m. on Saturday, with the Loughborough one set to depart at 5.30 p.m. next Tuesday.