RUGBY TOWN: Hosting Highgate on Saturday

Jeff Woodward heads clear against Shepshed
Jeff Woodward heads clear against Shepshed
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Hopes to end 2017 on a high after Jekyll and Hyde Christmas

Rugby Town put in a true Jekyll and Hyde Christmas, following up on their easy victory at Wulfrunians last weekend with a poor Boxing Day display in defeat at Shepshed.

Town round off their 2017 fixtures with the visit of Highgate United this Saturday, and they will be hoping to end a year that saw them relegated down into the fifth step of the non-league pyramid on a high against the West Midlands outfit.

The 4-1 Wulfs’ success had seen Valley jump two places up into seventh place in the Midland Football League Premier Division, but the 3-1 reverse in Leicestershire meant they slipped back into tenth spot in a table now headed once more by Coleshill.

Both Bromsgrove and Sporting Khalsa are breathing down the North Warwickshire club’s neck at the top though, with Worcester and Coventry Sphinx currently occupying the next two positions – just ahead of this weekend’s Butlin Road visitors Highgate.

United will represent a tough test for Dave Stringer’s men, as they boast the joint best defensive record in the division having conceded just 22 goals in their 18 outings to-date. With just four MFL defeats so far this season (compared to Rugby’s seven), the Shirley-based team will be looking to build upon last season’s seventh placed finish – following their promotion to this level in 2015.

Highgate last played at Butlin Road just over seven years ago, when despite goals from Richard Wesley, Seb Hamilton and Luke Keen, the visitors progressed through to the next stage of the Birmingham Senior Cup with a 4-3 victory.

Prior to that, the two sides had also met three times in knockout competitions in the 1980s and 1990s – including a 3-1 FA Cup Qualifying success for Valley in 1982.

Defender Brad Harris will be in contention again after he missed the two Christmas games through suspension, and Town boss Dave Stringer will also be hoping to have Stuart Hendrie and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas back in the fold after they missed the Shepshed fixture.

Rugby kick off the new calendar year with a trip to Loughborough University on January 6, before back-to-back home games against South Normanton and Khalsa the following two Saturdays. They round off the month with an away match against Long Eaton on the 27th.