Two more friendlies lined up this week
PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town face two further warm-up matches in the coming week, with King’s Lynn and a Northampton Town XI both due at Butlin Road on the back of Valley’s first pre-season defeat last weekend at home to Solihull Moors by two goals to nil, writes Jon Venner.
The Conference North outfit ultimately proved too strong for Gary Mills’ men, although Moors did have to wait until the final eleven minutes for both of their goals.
Mills will have been satisfied with the way his side nullified the threat of much higher level opposition particularly for the opening hour or so of the game. However the lack of creativity and penetration may have concerned him, with the kick-off of their NPL campaign now looming.
Apart from one well-struck David Kolodynski effort from the edge of the penalty area just after the start of the second half, Town failed to trouble Solihull keeper Sheridan Martinez, with the visitors finally making the breakthrough on 79 minutes through the experienced Darren Byfield – before Callum Gittings put the result beyond doubt shortly after.
Both Byfield and his strike partner Akwasi Asante had gone close on a number of occasions, before the ex-Aston Villa forward pounced on a moment of hesitancy from Valley keeper Neil Collett to squeeze the ball home from a tight angle. Gittings added the second shortly after when he beat Collett’s replacement Josh Hughes at his near post.
Mills had rung the changes in the second half after a goalless first, giving him the opportunity to check out a number of triallists – including one-time Scunthorpe United professional Aron Wint and ex-Kettering player Lewis Hamilton in advanced positions.
Another triallist Ryan Walker had impressed in the centre of defence in the first half alongside recent signing Tom Ryan, with only winger Calllum Powell and full-backs Keenah Rosser and Craig Kelly seeing out the full quota of the game.
Next-up for Rugby is the visit of the Linnets this Saturday (1st August), with the reformed club preparing for a first season back in the Southern League Premier Division after three seasons in the NPL structure.
On Wednesday (5th) Town play host to a side from Northampton, before rounding off their friendly schedule with another home game against Barwell a week Saturday (8th).
Mills has confirmed the signing of league registration forms of three more players, with Rosser and midfielders Trey Brathwaite and Harry Holloway joining his 2015/16 squad.
Both Rosser and Brathwaite were on the books of last weekend’s opponents Solihull last season, with Brathwaite also featuring on loan at Stratford. Holloway makes the step up from the club’s youth team.