RUGBY TOWN: Kettering Saturday’s visitors

Manager Dave Stringer
Manager Dave Stringer

Large crowd expected

This Saturday’s home game with Kettering should see Rugby Town return to league action for the first time in three weeks.

Last weekend’s inevitable postponement of the game at Aylesbury meant Town were inactive for the second successive weekend, and have now only played a Birmingham Senior Cup tie against Tamworth since their back-to-back victories over Christmas against Daventry and North Greenford.

Valley boss Dave Stringer reflected on his side’s recent performances and also the impact of the wet weather: “We’re looking in good form at the moment, and arguably playing as well as we have all season.

“Apart from the opening few minutes against Daventry on Boxing Day, when for some reason we went on the back foot, I thought we were pretty much in control and deserved the win.

“The five goals at North Greenford confirmed our form, and I thought we then acquitted ourselves really well against Tamworth – despite losing out to a very dubious goal.

“Whilst we are always looking to win every game we play, in one sense the cup defeat does allow us to focus exclusively on the league from now on.

“It’s frustrating to have to sit out a couple of times due to the weather. Of course I would have much rather have played, but I suppose the break has given us the opportunity to get a few players closer to full match fitness or back from injury instead.”

A bumper crowd is expected this Saturday at Butlin Road – with Kettering renowned for their healthy contingent of travelling support, and with the Poppies on a great run of form at the moment, it should be a tough test for Stringer’s men.

He continued: “They appear to be spending a bit of money at the moment signing the players they think will get them into the play-off places, and I would expect them to be challenging up there come the end of the season.”

The arrival of Dubi Ogbonna from St.Ives in particular has boosted Kettering’s season, with the striker grabbing his third league hat-trick for his new club (in just seven appearances) last weekend in the 5-1 home win over Leighton.

That victory extended the Northamptonshire side’s unbeaten league run to twelve games, after a poor start to the season saw them slip to four defeats in their opening five games.

However, they have gone on to lose only twice since, although one of those was in the reverse fixture between the two sides at Latimer Park in September, when goals from Alex Gudger and Aaron Moses-Garvey secured the win for Valley.

Rugby are on a good run of their own though, and with eight consecutive victories in league games at Butlin Road and only one defeat in ten overall in the league, it should be an interesting match-up on Saturday.