Valley happy as climb up league table continues
Whisper it quietly - so as not to tempt fate, but it looks like Rugby Town are firmly back in the groove again after another good week for Dave Stringer’s men.
Having now extended their winning streak to six matches, Valley have moved up into fourth spot in the league table – whilst also reaching the final eight of its cup competition.
They have also recorded five clean sheets in this run of six victories, whilst at the other end their marquee striker signing appears to have immediately found his scoring boots. With a number of others hitting their best form, and a couple of key performers making successful comebacks from injury too, there was also the added bonus of the return of an old favourite to the club this week.
Last weekend’s 3-0 league success at Bedford was followed by a 2-0 cup one at Premier Division Biggleswade on Tuesday evening, and next up for Town is the visit of struggling Beaconsfield to Butlin Road this Saturday.
Recent signing Richard Gregory took his Valley tally to three in two starts with his brace at Bedford, whilst keeper Richard Morris has only conceded twice in just short of eight hours of football – which is in no small part due to the excellent form of central defensive duo Alex Gudger and Mason Rowley immediately in front of him.
With Richard Blythe and Sam Youngs also back to their ‘A’ game following the arrival at the club of fellow midfielder Robbie Burns, Rugby’s football is at times approaching the free-flowing, dominant style that took them to two successive near misses at the very top of the table in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Seb Lake-Gaskin and Lewis Rankin both gained valuable match time against Bedford and Biggleswade in their return from their respective ankle and hamstring problems, with Lake-Gaskin on target in both games and the recently-contracted Rankin an influential figure.
The re-signing of Fazel Koriya this week from AFC Rushden & Diamonds has further bolstered Stringer’s attacking options, and the 33 year old made an instant impact with Town’s second goal on Tuesday evening.
The much-travelled Koriya was part of the record breaking 2012/13 Rugby squad, starting 42 games and registering 13 times – before leaving for the current UCL Premier leaders at the end of that season.
Saturday’s visitors Beaconsfield have had a poor season to-date, and are currently sitting in 19th – six points clear of the drop zone.
Their form has been a little better of late, having registered four draws in their last five league outings – although it is still eight games since they recorded a victory.
Rugby won the reverse fixture between the two sides back in October, with a stoppage time winner from Gudger giving the visitors the points, despite having been reduced to nine men by that stage following the dismissals of Youngs and Ben George.
Stringer goes into the game still desperately short of defensive options however, with George (nose operation) the only one of the three out-of-action full-backs close to a return. Craig Kelly (ankle) and Alex Austin (broken wrist) are definite non-starters in the immediate future.
# Having reached the Quarter-Final of the Red Insure Cup for the second time in four seasons, Town will now host Corby at Butlin Road on Tuesday February 10th. The other ties in this round are Egham v North Greenford or Chesham, Poole v Truro and Swindon Supermarine v North Leigh.