RUGBY TOWN: League title is no pipedream

Ellis Myles
Ellis Myles

Whilst Valley narrowly missed out on a chance to make it ten out of ten at Godalming last weekend, boss Dave Stringer was still full of confidence about his side’s chances for the remainder of the season.

The 2-2 draw in Surrey ended Rugby’s longest ever consecutive winning sequence in thirty years in the Southern League, meaning they fell short of the club’s best ever 100% run back in 1970/71 – when they managed thirteen in a row in the United Counties League Division Three.Stringer confirmed how disappointed the players were after a game which saw Town take an early lead, only then to concede twice before Alex Gudger’s 68th minute leveller.He said: “The dressing room was strangely subdued after the game, as the players felt they should have won.

“On paper it looks an excellent point, holding the leaders to a draw on their own ground, but we know it could and should have been a game in which we took all three.“However that disappointment just emphasises how far we have come in recent weeks.

Everyone truly believes that we are capable of winning this league and it is now not just a pipedream.”The Godalming point had lifted Town back up into second place, but Burnham’s 7-0 midweek thrashing of whipping boys Woodford pushed Rugby back into third again – with just three points now separating the top five clubs.Valley host 12th place Barton this Saturday, with Stringer keen to maintain the form that his side have showed over the last two months.

He continued: “We are playing some excellent football at times, and the challenge is now to maintain this as we enter such a crucial period of the season.“We are looking a really good unit and scoring some good goals, but we must eliminate the silly ones that we are conceding at the other end.

“It’s important that we don’t get over excited, and continue with the hard work both on the pitch and on the training ground.”

Rugby will be looking to complete the double over Rovers at Butlin Road on Saturday, on the back of a 1-0 success at Sharpenhoe Road in early September – where a late strike from Seb Hamilton (his last goal for the club ahead of his retirement) secured the victory.Prior to that, the two sides had played out four successive draws in the seasons of 2010/11 and 2011/12.Stringer hopes to have virtually a full quota to choose from at the weekend, with midfielder Richard Blythe returning after missing the trip to Godalming with a virus and Alex Austin’s improving ankle meaning he could also be in contention for a place in the squad.The club is offering supporters the chance to watch the remaining home matches at a discounted rate with a ten-match half season ticket available for just £70 for adults and £30 for concessions.

Valley’s New Year’s Day success was watched by a crowd of 358 – the biggest of the season so far in the entire Evostik Southern League Central Division – and the club is hoping that the discounted offer and the fine form of the club will see Butlin Road smash this total again before the end of the campaign.

# The three games postponed over Christmas have now been rearranged. Town will host Ashford on January 29th, and visit Biggleswade on the 5th February and Aylesbury on the 26th February.

# The funeral for ex-VS Rugby manager Jimmy Knox will be held at St. Andrew’s Church, Church Street, Rugby on Friday 18th January at 1-30pm with the wake to follow at the club’s VS Bar afterwards.

# In addition to the sad passing of Jimmy on Christmas Eve, the club also lost three other former Valley favourites in 2012.Peter Nelson (also known as Milaszczuk) – a former striker and volunteer – died after a short illness on the 8th of December. He was a regularly amongst the goals for the club in the 1950s and 60s, and was fixture secretary between 1975 and 1978.Two other prolific scorers from the same era – outside left David Hawkins and centre forward Alan Smith - also died earlier in the year on the 23rd of April and the 22nd of November respectively.