Run of four away games now as Town slip back to seventh in table
Rugby Town came up just short again last Saturday with a second successive narrow home defeat against one of their division’s top contenders, when they let slip a first-half lead to go down 2-1 to Bromsgrove Sporting.
This latest MFL Premier reverse came a week on from a 1-0 Butlin Road one against Worcester, and left Valley boss Dave Stringer reflecting on what he called the “fine margins” of football.
Stringer explained: “We could have easily got something from the last couple of games, but things just didn’t go for us and we were also on the wrong end of some crucial decisions. I’ve been satisfied with the performances though and how we have stood up to two of the strongest teams in this league, and overall we are still convinced that we are heading in the right direction.”
The back-to-back defeats all but ended any slim hopes that Town could mount a late charge for one of the two potential promotion places out of this division, but Stringer remained positive that his side can soon return to winning ways, as they embark upon a run of four away fixtures this weekend with a trip to Quorn.
He continued: “We remain positive as a group and we have some good players at the club at the moment.
“We’ll be out there fighting to get as many points as we can before the end of the season and finish as high up the table as possible.”
Sam Belcher’s fifth minute penalty on Saturday had given Valley an early advantage, but ex-Town player Richard Gregory equalised – also from the spot – before setting up strike partner Jason Cowley for the winner, leaving Stringer to reflect on what could have been.
He said: “Saturday was a classic case of the fine margins of the game. I thought we were good value for our half-time lead, and I honestly believe that two of their players should have been sent off for challenges that were made in the first half – one of which wasn’t even given as a foul.
“I thought the award of their penalty was particularly harsh too and then we let ourselves down with how we defended for their second, but to the lads’ credit, they kept on going to the end and nearly got back on level terms a few times.”
Rugby’s defeat left them in 7th place in the table, but there is now a five point gap between them and Highgate in 6th, and a massive sixteen point differential to leaders Bromsgrove.
This weekend’s hosts Quorn are down in 15th, although their form over the past few months has been much improved and they have won eight and drawn one of their last twelve outings.
Town full-back Craig Kelly missed the Bromsgrove defeat due to a bad bout of tonsillitis, with Stringer unsure whether he will be well enough to return on Saturday.
David Kolodynski’s heavy cold meant he was only named as a substitute for the game, but he did come off the bench to feature for the last quarter of an hour.
Midfielder Josh Ruff will serve the second of his two match ban this Saturday, although Stringer did add to his squad last week with the signing of Isaac Cooper.
Cooper was straight into the team against Sporting, after he ended his second spell at Hinckley to join Town, with the 22 year old left-sided player having also previously played at higher level Halesowen and Barwell.