Nirvana edge out Town in generally forgettable tie
PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
UCL League Cup - Round One
Rugby Town 1 Leicester Nirvana 2
Town exited a second cup competition in three days, after Nirvana’s Conor Wingfield settled a generally forgettable tie with a 53rd minute winner at Butlin Road on Tuesday evening.
It meant a second defeat of the season so far at the hands of the Leicester club for Carl Adams’ men, with the Valley boss using the encounter to give game time to a number of fringe players.
In total there were eight changes from the weekend FA Cup defeat against Hednesford, including a return to action from suspension for leading scorer Danico Johnson - who marked his reappearance with Rugby’s only goal of the match on the stroke of half-time.
Johnson had threatened to open the scoring on the quarter of the hour mark, when he squibbled through the middle of the Nirvana defence - only to see his final shot saved by the legs of keeper Davis Glover.
The Town striker had two further half chances - a scrambled effort and an off-target header - before the visitors scored on 37 minutes when Jordan Smith took advantage of a mistake by Dominic Perkins to run through on goal and slide the ball past Matt Hill.
Valley were back on level terms by the interval though, with Lewis Hayden setting up Johnson for a curling strike into the top corner in first half stoppage time.
Leicester regained the lead eight minutes into the new period, when Chris Anastasi’s ball across the face of the goal was helped back by Abubacar Cisse to allow Wingfield to smash home from close range.
The hosts did probe for a second equaliser though, with Lewis Hayden’s low shot drawing a decent save from Glover and then the same player whipped in a dangerous cross which was just cleared away by a Nirvana boot.
Johnson also scuffed one wide, before Glover was again in good form to keep out a low strike by Romario Martin - after Perkins had laid the ball back to him.
With the game becoming increasingly niggly and scrappy, Nirvana started to threaten a little on the counter, with Smith’s first time effort taken by Hill and Wingfield sending one wide.
Town substitute Charlie Evans nearly scored with his first touch, but he could only put Richard Blythe’s headed flick-on straight at Glover, and shortly after Martin had a further shot in the box blocked.
Anastasi tested Hill with a shot in the closing minutes, with Rugby’s last hopes of an equaliser denied by an offside flag after Blythe had stroked the ball into the net after good interchange play by the home side.