Aylesbury and Redditch United the visitors this week
After a decidedly average start to Rugby Town’s 2014/15 league campaign, there is suddenly a rosy glow pervading around Butlin Road – with Tuesday’s 3-0 home win over Godalming extending their winning streak to three games.
This resurgence has seen Valley ease back up the Southern League Central Division table to eighth and they are now just a single point off the play-off zone.
Tuesday’s performance was full of energy and threat - despite the absence of last season’s star player Seb Lake-Gaskin through injury, and manager Dave Stringer will be looking for more of the same this weekend when Aylesbury FC are the visitors.
Having just comfortably dispatched two of the current promotion contenders – Potters Bar and Godalming – Valley will again come up against a side that have made a good overall start to the season, although the Moles’ October return did see them lose three of the five league games they played.
Despite this blip, Aylesbury still occupy third place – seven points behind leaders Kettering, who returned to the division’s summit after a midweek victory over Barton.
Town are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Buckinghamshire side, including a 3-2 victory in the corresponding game last December.
David Kolodynski (2) and Lake-Gaskin were on target then, with Kolodynski also grabbing a hat-trick in the Butlin Road match-up between the two sides the season previous to that.
Stringer will have to shuffle – or even add to - his pack ahead of Saturday’s clash, with both Ben George and Sam Youngs suspended following their recent sending-offs at Beaconsfield.
George starts a three match ban, whilst Youngs misses only one – allowing him to return against his previous club Redditch in next Tuesday’s home Red Insure (League) Cup tie.
Youngs’ absence may see a first start for ex-Coventry City academy player Lewis Rankin, with Alex Austin the likely deputy for George at full-back.
Valley’s good run of form has coincided with the arrival of new goalkeeper Richard Morris from beleaguered neighbours Daventry, and Town’s new number one has conceded just once (from the penalty spot at Beaconsfield) in his three starts to-date.
Even with Town’s inconsistent start to the season, only Kettering have conceded less than Rugby in the league so far, and with Kolodynski continuing his fine goalscoring record for the club, a season many were writing off just a fortnight ago may turn out to be a successful one after all.
Kolodynski has now notched 18 times in 22 starts this time round, after 74 goals in the two previous years, as he edges ever closer to Hedley Lewis’s all-time club scoring records.
Lewis registered 132 league goals (196 in all competitions) for Valley between 1964 and 1975, and Kolodynski’s latest strike on Tuesday took him to 124 (and 148).
# Tuesday evening’s cup game against old foes Redditch means the clubs meet in the same stage of the competition for the second successive year.
The Reds edged the second round game last time out by a 3-2 margin, with both of Valley’s goals coming from Youngs – a personal contribution which ultimately saw him move onto the Worcestershire side.
Redditch have made a good start to their 2014/15 Premier Division campaign, and are currently in 4th position in the table.
# Town have been drawn at home to Premier League club West Bromwich Albion in the second round of the Birmingham F.A. Senior Cup competition. The date of this game is to be confirmed.
# Valley’s new hospitality suite will be officially opened next Friday (14th). The Mayor of Rugby Ramesh Srivastava will perform the ceremonial duties at the event, which will also be attended by MP Mark Pawsey – with ex-professional referee Brian Hill filling the Guest Speaker slot.