Final friendlies this week against Evesham and Bedworth and a quick look at the highlights of the league fixture list
PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town boss Carl Adams was encouraged by his squad’s pre-season preparations after they played out two more warm-up games over the past week.
Valley followed up on a 3-0 reverse at NPL outfit Sutton Coldfield with a 2-0 victory against an Under 23 development side from Coventry City at Butlin Road on Tuesday evening.
Adams reflected: “That’s been two decent work-outs against good calibre opposition, but for me pre-season is all about getting minutes under the belt and the results aren’t really the thing focus on.”
Town conceded three second-half goals at Coles Lane at the weekend, after an evenly-contested opening period had seen the two teams return to the dressing rooms goal-less.
A strike either side of the interval from last season’s stand-out performer Charlie Evans then earned Rugby their success at a sweltering Butlin Road against the Sky Blues’ young professional line-up.
This was spearheaded by striker Maxime Biamou - who had made more than 50 first team starts before a serious cruciate injury ruled him out of most of the 2018/19 campaign.
Evans’s first came when he applied a decent low finish to Kieran Fitzgerald’s assist on 40 minutes and then the same player powered one into the roof of the net after Jamal Clarke had headed on a Valley corner.
Adams continued: “Just as we didn’t get carried away with last Saturday’s defeat, we won’t do either with the win, but I am proud of how the lads played tonight and they really did bust a gut for me.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to integrate five or six new players into last season’s squad, but it’s going okay at the moment and when we have played our strongest line-up - or as near as we have to it - I think we have done well.
“We’ve got two more games against higher level opposition to come over the next few days and hopefully then we’ll be ready for the main business at the beginning of August.”
Next-up for Town is a trip to Evesham on Thursday, July 25, before they round off their friendlies with the visit to Butlin Road of another Southern League regional division side Bedworth this Saturday.
Having confirmed the signing of centre-half Rico Alexander from Daventry last week, Adams’s defensive options were further strengthened by the return of full-back Keenah Rosser for the Coventry game.
Alexander was a mainstay of the Northamptonshire club’s UCL Premier title winning endeavours alongside another summer recruit Kieran Fitzgerald, whilst Rosser - who had scooped the player of the year award from his manager last term - had hoped to play this season at a higher level, but returns to Town having featured in a couple of pre-season games for Redditch.
Adams also confirmed that he did not expect to be adding further to his squad ahead of the UCL opener on Saturday August 3 at home to Cogenhoe.
He said: “I think we will be going with what we have for now, unless something special becomes available of course.”
# Following on from the season kick-off match against Cogenhoe, Valley’s first away outing is to newly-promoted Anstey Nomads on August 6, with further Butlin Road fixtures scheduled in the first month against Leicester Nirvana (17th), Lutterworth Town in the League Cup (20th) and Shepshed (31st).
Other highlights of the league programme announced last weekend see a second home game with near-neighbours Lutterworth on Boxing Day - with the reverse fixture between the two sides on Easter Monday.
Town are set to round off their campaign with the visit of Rothwell on Saturday, April 25, whilst they are scheduled to play their two matches against arguably this season’s title favourites Deeping within little more than a month of each other on December 7 and and January 11.