Club believe new appointment will give best chance of promotion next season
Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer’s second stint in the Butlin Road hot seat came to an end this week, after the club announced they had parted company with him after the completion of the 2017/18 season.
The new man at the Valley helm is ex-Stratford Town manager Carl Adams, who has recently resigned from his post at the Southern League Premier Division side after six years in charge there.
The 45-year-old comes to Town with an impressive managerial track record, having guided Stratford to two promotions since joining them for the 2012/13 season.
In his first season at Knights Lane, he helped secure them the Midland Alliance title (the equivalent of Town’s current league), before then advancing through the Southern League South & West Division via the play-offs in 2015.
Adams has left Stratford after maintaining their Step Three non-league pyramid status for three seasons – recording 19th, 14th and 15th place finishes, and he also has a further title success on his managerial CV at Coleshill, where he won the Midland Combination championship in 2008.
As a player, he made three first team starts for Birmingham City, before also featuring for Northampton, Kettering, Stevenage and Weymouth – ahead of a spell in the USA.
Valley Director Neil Melvin explained the rationale behind the switch and welcomed the new man to the club.
He said: “After the disappointment of relegation at the end of 2016/17, we set ourselves the primary objective of restoring non-league step 4 football to Butlin Road at the earliest opportunity, and we believe that this appointment now gives us the best chance of achieving this.
“Whilst we would like to thank Dave for all his efforts and wish him well in the future, unfortunately this season has not been as successful as we would have hoped for and as a result we were not at any point in serious contention for one of the two promotion places that were available.
“Getting out of this division is likely to be even tougher next time around, so we have appointed someone who has previously accomplished this task and is now ambitious to replicate this with us.”
Stringer had rounded off his one year back at Town with two victories over the past week to end the club’s first ever season within the Midland Football League structure.
Their 1-0 and 5-2 successes at Coventry United last Thursday and in Saturday’s home game with Loughborough University respectively saw them move back up to finish in sixth place in its Premier Division.
The new term had started encouragingly with back-to-back wins over two fancied teams – Coventry United (in the FA Cup) and Sporting Khalsa (in Valley’s MFL debut), but Town struggled for the rest of the opening month, managing just a single point from their four other league matches.
September offered promise however, when Stringer’s side were unbeaten in eight games in all competitions, before a stuttering October and early November – which included a 2nd Round Proper FA Vase exit.
Fresh hope arrived from mid-November through to the end of January though, when Rugby only lost one of the ten league fixtures completed, but despite this decent run, Town were still off the pace at the beginning of what would have to be a pivotal February for them.
However four losses out of four that month – including crucial home defeats to promotion challengers Worcester and eventual champions Bromsgrove – put paid to any outside hopes of Valley mounting a late season challenge.
Rugby’s year therefore appeared to meander to a close from that point on, as they recorded a mixed bag of results and performances – with seven wins, two draws and five defeats from their final 12 games.
The final sixth place ranking was the best Town managed all season, but they were still seven points adrift of fifth placed Khalsa and a whopping 34 behind Bromsgrove at the summit.
For the second season running, Valley’s Achilles heel was again the number of single goal margin defeats they suffered, with 13 of their 16 reverses coming in such fashion.
Despite the decent goal returns of David Kolodynski (23 league/29 all competitions) and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas (20/23), only two teams in the division’s top 12 scored less than Town, and their lack of penetration in the final third was an ongoing feature of the season – with Stringer tending to favour a narrower formation/tactics than in his first spell in charge at the club.
The highlights of the season included the 6-1 demolition of South Normanton at Butlin Road, which saw the emergence of young striker Sam Lockley – who grabbed a second half hat-trick from the bench.
The hard fought for 1-0 victory over then leaders and unbeaten Coleshill earlier in the campaign will also be remembered, as will the four- goal blitz in the opening 25 minutes of the March match-up with Heanor.
In terms of low points, the unsightly fracas which saw the League Cup tie with Coventry Copsewood abandoned and receive subsequent national media attention is certainly on the radar, as will be the heavy defeats when outplayed at both Bromsgrove and Coleshill. The late season ineffectual displays at Shawbury and Lye are also both best forgotten.
Other individual contributions of note include the captaincy and measured displays of James Dance in the heart of the Town defence. Alongside Dance, Sean Castleton also put in some commendable performances – especially mid-campaign, whilst 18-year-old Remie Birch impressed many with his maturity and abilities, after securing a regular berth at full-back towards the end of the term.