Trips to Highgate and Coventry United this week
Rugby Town travel to Highgate this Saturday with their season in danger of stagnation following a third successive defeat last weekend at Quorn.
Valley returned home from Leicestershire after a 3-2 reverse came on the back of two other single goal margin losses at home to Worcester and Bromsgrove, and whilst they held onto their seven place berth in the MFL Premier Division, there is the danger that their intensity levels will start to drop in their remaining fifteen matches with little left to play for.
However, Town boss Dave Stringer had vowed that his side would fight for every point ahead of the Quorn trip, and at least the Highgate fixture provides them with the opportunity of revenge after the reverse fixture at Butlin Road at the end of December was clouded with controversy.
Rugby had established an early two-goal lead thanks to a quickfire double from David Kolodynski, but the game’s dynamic clearly shifted with the dismissal of Valley midfielder Sam Belcher on 52 minutes for what referee Adam Clenaghan considered to be dangerous play.
The MFL subsequently rejected Clenaghan’s version of events after a Town appeal supported by video evidence was lodged – sparing Belcher a three-match ban, but this retrospective judgement could not change the fact that the visitors used their numerical advantage to strike twice before the end of the game to deny Rugby what looked like would be a comfortable win coming their way that afternoon.
Ironically Clenaghan is scheduled to take charge of Saturday’s game at The Coppice, where the hosts warmed up for the clash on Tuesday evening with a 6-0 thrashing of Westfields.
This emphatic victory came extended Highgate’s run to five straight league victories – keeping alive their outside chance of a place in the promotion places at the end of the season.
Saturday’s Shirley-based hosts are currently in fifth place in the table – ten points shy of current leaders Coleshill, but with three games in hand of them.
Rugby face another away game next Wednesday (28th), when they make their second visit of the season to the Butts Park Arena to face Coventry United.
Town recorded a 2-1 FA Cup triumph there in their first game of the season courtesy of another Kolodynski brace, before the two sides played out a goalless draw in the league fixture at Butlin Road in October. United started the campaign as one of the favoured contenders in the league after appearing to strengthen their squad in the summer following their eighth place finish in their inaugural campaign in the division last time out.
However after a promising start to the season, their form has dropped of late and last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Worcester left them in 13th spot.
Stringer will have midfielder Josh Ruff back available again this weekend, after he completed his two match ban for totting up ten bookings, whilst Tuesday’s hosts Coventry may include the familiar face of Kevin Thornton in their line-up following the ex-Valley man’s return to United after featuring for Hinckley during Dale Belford’s short spell in charge there.
# The club coach to Highgate will leave Butlin Road at 12.15 p.m., but there is no organised travel to Coventry next Wednesday. For latest information contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.