RUGBY TOWN: Six-goal win but manager Stringer keeping his feet firmly on the ground

Rugby Town manager Dave Stringer
Rugby Town manager Dave Stringer
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Big game on Saturday as Valley welcome third-placed Khalsa to Butlin Road

Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer was keeping his feet firmly on the ground despite the 6-1 thrashing of South Normanton at the weekend.

Sam Belcher led the midfield on Saturday

Sam Belcher led the midfield on Saturday

The Butlin Road victory meant it is just one defeat in nine MFL outings for his side now, but Stringer is looking for even more improvement from them.

He said: “Of course it was a pleasing result and performance, but we are still very much evolving as a team. We’re still a long way from where I want us to be, but the last month or so we have started to show what we are capable of and I think people now are starting to see how we want to try and play.”

Valley’s latest win kept them in seventh place in the Premier Division table, as they enter a tough spell fixtures which sees them host three of the clubs above them.

First up is third placed Sporting Khalsa this Saturday, with subsequent visits from Worcester and Bromsgrove on the 3rd and 10th February respectively. A trip to in-form Long Eaton is also sandwiched within these home games.

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas battles in the box in Rugby's 6-1 win

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas battles in the box in Rugby's 6-1 win

Stringer knows it is going to be challenging period but is confident that his squad will get through it successfully.

He continued: “We’ve got a difficult spell now with some really testing matches, but I think we are ready and capable of getting results from them. We have shown over the last couple of weeks that we can score goals and all the lads are working hard defensively too.”

Rugby faced this weekend’s opponents in their first ever MFL fixture back in August, and they returned from the Aspray Arena with maximum points after goals from James Dance and Ruben Wiggins-Thomas within the opening half an hour set-up a 2-1 Valley success.

Dance and Wiggins-Thomas were two of only five of the players from that late summer’s day that started Town’s weekend win against South Normanton, as Stringer continued to freshen up his roster with the arrival last week of Sam Beasley from fellow MFL side Stourport.

Sam Lockley scored a second-half hat-trick against South Normanton

Sam Lockley scored a second-half hat-trick against South Normanton

The 27 year old midfielder had been a regular feature in captaining the Swifts’ line-up this season, but having relocated to the Rugby area he has decided to make the switch – despite his previous club’s continued involvement in the FA Vase.

Stringer was pleased to have been able to bring in the ex-Bromsgrove and Lye man. He explained: “I thought we were in need of a little more security in the middle of the park. We can be very offensive at times and the extra stability that a player like Sam can bring us should help balance things out more.

“His strength is getting the tackles in, breaking things up and getting the ball moving quickly again, and I think we saw that on Saturday in an encouraging debut from him.”

The Valley boss was also full of praise for the weekend’s hat-trick hero Sam Lockley, after the 18 year old ex-RTJFC player came off the bench to continue his impressive transition within Town’s senior outfit.

Stringer said: “I said when we signed him up that he could be our little gem and he has already shown what potential he has.

“He works hard and listens well in training, and he has great pace and energy on the pitch. We know that Sam is young though and we are not putting too much pressure on him at the moment as he still learning the game at this level.”

Town will have midfielder Ben Ashby back available this weekend after he completed his two match suspension, although Wiggins-Thomas – who was withdrawn at half-time against Normanton to facilitate Lockley’s second half treble – may be struggling to be fit for the important clash.

Khalsa come to Butlin Road on the back of a 2-1 success at Coventry United last Saturday, which represented their first win in eight attempts in all competitions.