Valley welcome Shepshed to Butlin Road
Rugby Town play host to longstanding rivals Shepshed at Butlin Road this Saturday, a week on from their disappointing MFL Premier Division 1-0 defeat at Lye.
Ironically the Lye reverse was only memorable for the fact that there was so little match action to report on, with Valley conceding a bicycle kick goal early in the game for the second week running.
However unlike the previous weekend at Worcester when they rallied and grabbed a deserved equaliser, Dave Stringer’s side were unable to lift themselves sufficiently and put in what could at best be described as an ‘off-day’.
Town had gone into the Lye game in sixth place in the table, having shifted up one spot on goal difference on the back of Coventry Sphinx’s defeat at Westfields last Thursday.
With Sphinx losing again on Saturday, Rugby held onto the highest ranking they have enjoyed since the opening week of the season. However with Westfields, Coventry United and Heanor all poised to overtake them once the fixture backlog is caught up on, Valley could easily slip out of the top ten by the end of their first MFL campaign.
Saturday’s opponents Shepshed cemented their current 13th position with a 2-1 midweek home victory over Long Eaton – which was their first maximum return in five attempts.
The two sides met in the reverse fixture at the Dovecote Stadium on Boxing Day, when the home side stormed to a three goal within 26 minutes before Josh Ruff scored a late consolation for Rugby.
This festive defeat was only one of the three that Town have experienced this season of more than a single goal margin – with the other two coming at promotion contenders Bromsgrove and Coleshill.
Reformed in 1994 as Shepshed Dynamo in deference to the support provided by their Leicestershire neighbours of the same name Loughborough, the club were relegated down to their current level of the non-league pyramid in 2012 – following two reprieves in years prior to that.
The two clubs first met in 1983 in the Southern League Midland Division when Shepshed (then as Charterhouse) recorded a 2-0 victory at their Butthole Lane located ground. However the last four games between the clubs at Butlin Road (between 1999 and 2004) have seen Rugby come out on top on each occasion – the last time being in April 2004 when a solitary Justin Marsden goal helped push Valley towards their promotion into the Southern League Premier Division at the end of that season.
# Whilst Valley’s season as a whole meanders to a close, there is still one interesting battle to keep an eye on at the club – namely the destination of the Golden Boot for the campaign’s top scorer.
Ruben Wiggins-Thomas’s successful header against Khalsa last Tuesday brought him within two goals of David Kolodynski’s current 25 strike tally – which includes the one from the abandoned League Cup tie against Coventry Copsewoood.
# The club’s presentation evening had already been arranged for Friday, May 4 – which was after the originally scheduled season’s end date.
However the league’s fixture pile-up has led to a week’s extension, so there is every possibility that the handing over of the prize will be delayed until after the final game of the term against Lougborough University at Butlin Road - the day following the awards ceremony.
# At the top of the division, Bromsgrove look ever increasingly secure in first place, whilst Highgate’s recent run of good form and Coleshill’s dip has seen the two teams swap places – with the former now three points ahead of the Warwickshire club with a game in hand.