RUGBY TOWN: Late goal seals victory in Boxing Day derby over Lutterworth
Rugby Town now up to third place in the league
United Counties League - Premier Division
Rugby Town 2 Lutterworth Town 1
Valley were made to work hard for the points in the Boxing Day local derby, with Ryan Seal’s free-kick settling affairs with just a minute of normal time remaining at Butlin Road, writes Jon Venner.
Danico Johnson had given the hosts a half-time lead, but Lutterworth pulled level immediately after the restart, before Seal’s late strike extended Town’s winning home run to five matches.
The recalled Caine Elliott nearly grabbed his first goal for the club early on, but his attempt at helping in a Danico Johnson pull across the six yard box was blocked.
The visitors looked lively enough on the counter though, and Matt Hill was down well to keep out a low shot by Zak Adams.
Johnson’s angled strike sailed way over the bar, but the Town forward made no mistake on eleven minutes when he powered home past Warren Butlin after Dylan Parker had clipped the ball into his feet.
A further decent chance then came Johnson’s way, but this time - when opting for precision over power - his side-footed effort rolled wide.
Lutterworth continued to threaten on occasion, with Marshal Keenan almost grabbing an equaliser with his curler from the edge of the penalty area.
The home side ended the first period strongly though, and went close on three separate occasions in its closing minutes.
First Butlin pushed a decent Ryan Seal volley around the post, before Parker’s on-target strike was blocked by a defender. Finally a surge into the box by Mel Mpande ended with a cross-shot that Butlin nearly pushed over the line.
However Town were caught cold at the beginning of the new half, with Keenan levelling matters from the spot after the same player had been fouled in the box by James Hancocks as part of a forceful restart by Lutterworth.
Butlin then denied Elliott again, as the 17 year old attempted to skip round the prostrate keeper, whilst Josh Gough was soon poking one wide at the other end.
The even half continued, and Liam Francis failed to make contact with Seal’s corner with the goal gaping in front of him.
However once Jamal Clarke blazed over the frame from close range, it looked like it was not to be Town’s day.
In fact it was the away side that looked the most likely to grab a late winner, with Adams firing at Hill after he had pushed off the attentions of Loyiso Recci and Keenan’s volley was also blocked.
The game’s defining moment came on 89 minutes, when Seal curled his free-kick past both the defensive wall and Butlin after Parker’s run had been halted illegally.
Rugby line-up: Hill, Revan (Padmore), L.Thomas (Mpande), Francis, Recci, Clarke, Seal, Hancocks, Parker, Johnson, Elliott (Marsden). Subs not used: C.Thomas
Lutterworth line-up: Butlin, Riley, Samuels, Warren, Peace, Brown, Parish, Cooper, Keenan, Gough, Adams. Subs: Smith, Small, Leslie
Rugby Star Man: Dylan Parker