RUGBY TOWN: Tests from both ends of the table

Alex Gudger against Stafford Rangers (Picture by Martin Pulley)
Alex Gudger against Stafford Rangers (Picture by Martin Pulley)
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Beaconsfield and Potters Bar in the legaue this week

With their FA Trophy exploits once more ended prematurely at home to Stafford last Saturday, Rugby Town’s attentions return to the league again with two games over the coming week.

After the weekend trip to Beaconsfield and next Tuesday’s visit to Butlin Road of Potters Bar, Town will then have completed one third of the Central Division campaign – which has so far failed to live up to the heights of the previous two seasons, with Rugby dropping a further place to fifteenth following the midweek results.

The 1-0 reverse against Stafford was the fourth consecutive year that the club have exited from the Trophy in their first tie, and over the last decade Valley have a very poor record in the competition with just three wins in sixteen games.

Whilst Town await news of their opponents in the next round of the two knock-out competitions they remain involved in – the Birmingham Senior Cup and the Red Insure (League) Cup, boss Dave Stringer will be hoping this Saturday’s fixture at the division’s bottom side Beaconsfield provides the kick-start that their stuttering league campaign needs.

The Rams were on the periphery of the play-off zone for most of last season, but have struggled to-date – with just eight points on the board, including five defeats out of five at home.

The game will represent the tenth competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Rugby holding the clear advantage with five wins and two draws, although the last match-up did see Beaconsfield snatch an added-time winner at Butlin Road in February after the hosts had dominated proceedings.

Tuesday’s visitors Potters Bar have been the surprise package of the division so far, with only early pacesetters Kettering ahead of them in the table.

Valley did the double over the Hertfordshire side in 2013/14, following their transfer over from the Isthmian structure – including a 6-1 triumph in the corresponding game at Butlin Road last August.

The Scholars clearly are an attacking force to be reckoned with currently, having scored ten times in their last two league games – with their last away match at Chalfont generating an unusual 6-5 scoreline, with five of their goals coming from dangerman James Ewington.

# Jamie Towers’ departure has now been confirmed – albeit to Southern League Premier Barwell rather than the expected move to Stratford, so with Lewis McBride’s availability still unreliable, Stringer will undoubtedly be looking to bolster his midfield options in the coming weeks

Keepers Joe Mellings and Niall Cooper both remain unavailable at the moment and with current incumbent Nick Bennion short of confidence, he has also his sights on that position – and is believed to be targeting the Daventry stopper Richard Morris.

Morris was first choice keeper at Communications Park over the last two seasons, but lost his place in the side earlier this campaign following an injury.

# The club coach to Beaconsfield will leave Butlin Road at 11.30am. For latest information regarding availability contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.

# The Southern League have confirmed a sponsorship deal with leading adhesives and sealants provider Bostik which will see it once more incorporate its well-known brand Evo-Stik into the league title – having also done so between 2011 and 2013.

The deal will run until the end of the 2015/16 season (with an option for a further one year term) and the league will officially be known as the ‘Evo-Stik League Southern’ for that period.