Valley 13th in league after win and draw from first four games
Having recorded their first victory of the league campaign last Saturday at Kidsgrove, Rugby Town just missed out on adding to their points tally on Monday when visitors Carlton struck late in the game to steal the win.
Therefore Valley go into their cup weekend with a four points return from their four NPL South Division games to-date, and sit in 13th place in a table currently topped by Witton Albion and Romulus – who both have a 100% record.
Rooted to the bottom are Town’s next league opponents (in a week’s time) Sheffield FC, who have yet pick up a point from their opening quartet of fixtures, but first Rugby must face NPL Premier Corby in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup this Saturday at Butlin Road.
Valley’s narrow home victory over Bromsgrove in the Preliminary Round has set up the 33rd competitive meeting between the two sides. The weekend’s visitors have made a stuttering start to their first season back at level three of the non-league pyramid, and are yet to register a victory in their five outings.
The Steelmen finished bottom of the National League North Division in 2015/16 to end a one year stay at the higher level, having finished top of the Southern League Premier the previous season.
Rugby’s win at Kidsgrove was largely due to an outstanding performance between the sticks by Louis Connor after David Kolodynski had recorded his 150th league goal in a Valley shirt to give his side the lead, and the goalkeeping son of ex-Wolves manager and current Ipswich assistant Terry Connor was just three minutes from another clean sheet on Bank Holiday Monday before Carlton’s Danny Gordon struck.
With Sam Belcher and Andy Gooding unavailable, Town boss James Jepson had moved quickly to add winger Luke Smithson to the ranks for the weekend matches, whilst also signing young defender Tom Fishwick from Littleton.
Smithson started both games after his switch from Coalville, where he will always be fondly remembered for scoring the winning goal in last season’s NPL South Division play-off final against Shaw Lane, having followed manager Tommy Brookbanks to the club from Loughborough the previous year.
Jason Lee also missed the Kidsgrove victory, before returning to the fold on Monday, but the defender looks set to be unavailable again this weekend, as Town manager James Jepson also has to deal with the absences of Edi Appleton (cup tied) and Jake Woolley (suspended) for the FA Cup games – although both Belcher and Gooding should be back with the squad again fortunately.
# If a replay is required against Corby, this will be played at Steel Park on Tuesday (September 6) and a coach would leave Butlin Road at 5.30pm. For Valley’s next league match at Sheffield on September 10 additional capacity has now been added, and anyone interested in this should contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.