Preliminary round tie at Butlin Road on Saturday
PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town’s attentions shift back to the FA Cup this weekend, when Evesham United are the visitors in the Preliminary Round of the competition.
Valley secured the tie after a deserved 2-1 victory at Coventry United in the Extra Preliminary Stage - in a mirror image scoreline against the same club in the same round of their 2017 FA Cup adventure.
Saturday’s opponents Evesham currently play one level higher than Town in the Southern League Division One South, having failed to gain promotion via the play-offs for the third time in four years at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
The two teams last faced each other nine seasons ago in the Southern League Premier Division, when the Robins recorded a win and a draw against Lee Colkin and Michael Love’s side in what turned out to be the end of Rugby’s six-year stay at that level as a result of their bottom placed finish at the end of the 2009/10 term.
The first meeting between the two clubs dates back to October 1979 though, when 116 people attended a FA Vase Round One tie at Butlin Road - which the visitors won 1-0.
Whilst Rugby were warming up for this Saturday’s game with an impressive performance in a 5-2 over Boston Town, Evesham lost their first competitive outing of the season 1-0 at Melksham.
They were due to play again last night (Wednesday) at home to Mangotsfield, with Town boss Carl Adams expected to be in attendance to scout the opposition for the weekend’s fixture.
Adams will have been generally happy by what he saw of his side at Butlin Road last Saturday, with striker Danico Johnson continuing his excellent run in front of goal with three more strikes.
Johnson had also recorded a hat-trick in Valley’s opening league fixture at Peterborough Northern Star and followed this up with both goals in the cup at Coventry a fortnight later, with his Boston tally therefore taking his total for the season to eight in just four games.
Elsewhere in the UCL Premier Division, Daventry’s 3-0 victory at Wellingborough Whitworths left them as the only remaining team with a 100% record from their opening three fixtures, and they have a two point lead at the top over four further unbeaten clubs - Eyensbury, Cogenhoe, Deeping and Pinchbeck.
Rugby are a point behind that quartet in seventh position, with their next league outing also at Butlin Road when Holbeach are the visitors on the first day of September.
Town will be looking to advance further in Saturday’s competition than they did after last season’s Butts Park springboard, when an added-time winner saw them suffer a narrow 3-2 home defeat to Romulus.
The club’s form in the FA Cup in the four seasons previous to that has been encouraging though, with two appearances in the Third Qualifying Round and two in the Second Qualifying Round too. Each time they fell to then-Conference opposition - twice against Worcester and twice at the hands of Brackley.
# If Saturday’s tie ends in a draw, the replay would be played at Evesham’s Jubilee Stadium a week Wednesday (September 5).