Valley up to 11th in league after 4-1 win last week
Rugby Town have leapt up into the top half of the Evo-Stik NPL South Division for the first time this season following their comfortable victory at home to Loughborough at the weekend.
The 4-1 scoreline made it four wins in a five-game unbeaten run for Valley, lifting them four places in the table into previously unexperienced heady territory.
This latest success was achieved without their current star performer Kevin Thornton, but the in-form Irishman is expected to return to the fold this Saturday for the trip to Gresley, as Rugby look to maintain the upward momentum that has seen them surge from the relegation zone to genuine play-off contenders within just a couple of months.
Town manager Dale Belford’s rejigged back-line was again relatively untroubled against Dynamo, with the new central defensive pairing Tom Ryan and Chris Tullin forming a solid protection in front of keeper Sam Andrew.
However, the rise has mainly come on the back of a goal spree for Belford’s side, which has seen them notch 20 times in their last eight league outings - doubling their total for the season in the process.
After the weekend, only five teams in the division had scored more than Valley, with David Kolodynski’s penalty brace against Loughborough lifting him up to joint third in the scoring charts - two behind Romulus’ Luke Keen and one shy of Kidsgrove’s Anthony Malbon.
Saturday’s opponents Gresley go into the game on the back of a fine 3-2 win at Stocksbridge on Tuesday evening, a victory which saw them move up a place to 17th.
Town recorded their only league victory under previous boss Gary Mills in the reverse fixture at Butlin Road earlier in the campaign, with goals from Tom Liversedge and Sam Warburton helping to secure a 2-1 win.
Valley’s last visit to the Moat Ground came more than twelve years ago when Danny Hall, Neil Melvin and Jamie Williams were on target in a 3-2 success.
With Thornton likely to be instantly restored to the starting line-up, either Kurtis Revan or Jake Healy look set to miss out - with Callum Powell probably returning to a wide role again.
Rugby will be looking to extend an unbeaten run on the road, which has seen them not lose an away game for nearly three months dating back to the 4-0 defeat at runaway leaders Stafford in the middle of October.
# The introduction of midfielder Luke Delaney towards the end of the Loughborough game meant it was now fifty players that have pulled on a Valley shirt in competitive games this season.
The ex-Walsall FC academy player made Rugby his fourth club of the campaign so far, having also been at Nuneaton, Chasetown and Walsall Wood. He had also previously featured for Town in pre-season.
# The club coach to Gresley will leave Butlin Road at 12 mid-day.
# Town return to home action next Saturday with the visit of rock-bottom Tividale. The West Midlands club remain anchored at the foot of the table - eleven points from safety.
# Valley’s fixture schedule in March has been extended with the rearrangement of two games. The home match against Coalville will now be played on Tuesday 15th March, with the trip to Shaw Lane Aquaforce due to played four days later.