RUGBY TOWN: Pictures from feisty victory over third-placed Pinchbeck

Scorer Lewis Rankin celebrates with fans at Pinchbeck on Saturday   PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Scorer Lewis Rankin celebrates with fans at Pinchbeck on Saturday PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Valley make it four wins in a row to cement second spot in table

United Counties League - Premier Division

Dominic Perkins returned to the starting lineup for this key fixture

Dominic Perkins returned to the starting lineup for this key fixture

Pinchbeck United 0 Rugby Town 3

Rugby Town made it four wins on the trot after they returned from a tetchy encounter in Lincolnshire with another comfortable victory.

The visitors were already ahead through a Liam Francis header, when Pinchbeck were reduced to ten men on the half hour mark - before a further first half strike from Lewis Rankin doubled the lead ahead of the break.

Fazel Koriya’s late goal rounded off the scoring for a Valley side that had showed two changes from the previous week’s home victory against Sleaford, with Dom Perkins in for the suspended Lewis Hayden, and Trey Brathwaite fit enough again to be restored at full-back.

Stefan Blake in midfield

Stefan Blake in midfield

Rugby started the game strongly, and Charlie Evans was soon testing home keeper Ricky Lovelace with a powerful angled shot after he had played a neat one-two with Danico Johnson.

There were less than five minutes on the clock when a good chance came Johnson’s way, but Town’s leading scorer’s effort was blocked away for a corner after Rankin had picked him out.

A spectacular long-range volley by United’s Lee Beeson was tipped round the post by Matt Hill, and from Andrew Tidwell’s resulting corner Chris Shipley flicked the ball across the face of Hill’s goal.

Back-to-back mass altercations on 15 minutes highlighted the general tone of the opening exchanges though, as the hosts looked to break up play with a number of niggly fouls and subsequent complaints to the officials.

Richard Blythe provided calm control in midfield

Richard Blythe provided calm control in midfield

Francis then broke the deadlock when he rose highest at the far post to meet Rankin’s deep corner - duly sending it over Lovelace and into the net.

Stefan Blake just failed to execute a near carbon copy attempt to a Rankin set-piece shortly after, before the dismissal of Pinchbeck’s Jack Smith for a second yellow card came when he scythed through the back of Johnson - having already been booked in one of the earlier melees.

Evans was thwarted as he was about to shoot following a quick Town break, ahead of their second when Rankin cut inside to fire one low past the keeper after Blake’s excellent ball had sliced open the defence.

The second half was a relatively quieter affair, although Rugby continued to look the more likely outfit to score - creating a series of half chances.

Pacey forward Charlie Evans

Pacey forward Charlie Evans

Rankin pulled a shot wide and Johnson was almost in behind the United defence, with Beeson then blocking Blake’s goalbound effort on the line after another threatening Rankin corner.

Evans and Johnson both sent efforts over the bar, with the home side’s best opportunity seeing Loyiso Recci doing well to block Oli Maltby’s dangerous-looking ball into the box.

With the game into stoppage time, Koriya made it three with a neat finish under Lovelace after Evans had ridden a couple of tackles to play in the Town substitute.

Goalkeeper Matt Hill emerges with the ball

Goalkeeper Matt Hill emerges with the ball

Keenah Rosser made frequent breaks up the right wing

Keenah Rosser made frequent breaks up the right wing