Uxbridge and Biggleswade games this week
Rugby Town’s perfect festive campaign left manager Dave Stringer a happy man, after he watched his side follow up on tight victories over promotion challengers Bedworth and Kettering with the thrashing of Egham at the weekend.
The nine point haul further cemented Valley’s position just within the play-off zone, and came despite the injury problems that have plagued Stringer’s squad over the past few weeks.
Town’s boss reflected: “The holiday period has gone as well as you could hope for, especially considering we are operating with such a threadbare squad at the moment.
“I can’t praise the lads enough. We’ve played with practically the same side for the last three matches, and to beat what was the top two going into Christmas and then to go on and play so well on Saturday is testament to their spirit and ability.”
Rugby recorded three clean sheets in a row – seeing off both Bedworth and Kettering with solitary goals on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day respectively, before hitting Egham for six in a totally one-sided affair at Butlin Road.
Stringer continued: “They were certainly three very contrasting performances. We didn’t play that well against Bedworth, but we got the vital goal and then dug in and went on to show a different side to our game. It was really pleasing to see that character come through.
“At Kettering, I thought we got what we deserved. We adapted to the atrocious conditions the better, and were good value for the win.
“Then it really clicked on Saturday, and we played as well as we have all season. The pitch held up very well despite the heavy rain that we had ahead of kick-off, and we dominated from start to finish.”
Next up for Town is another home game this Saturday, with Uxbridge the visitors to Butlin Road.
The two sides played out a 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture at the Honeycroft six weeks ago, where the hosts snatched a point from a bruising encounter with an added-time equaliser.
Town will be without both Lewis McBride and Ben George at the weekend, with the latter due for an operation on a broken nose he recently suffered.
Of the others who missed out against Egham, Stringer hopes that Seb Lake-Gaskin may be able to play some part at the weekend, but is less positive about Craig Kelly – who limped out of the Kettering victory with a badly turned ankle.
Stringer said: “We have so many players that are struggling at the moment, so we are really short of numbers. With a fully fit squad I would be really excited about our prospects, but hopefully some of the longer term absentees can get back into action sooner than expected.”
However the squad will be boosted by the arrival of prolific striker Richard Gregory, who signed for the club from Stratford this week after being targeted by Stringer following the departure of David Kolodynski to Kettering back in November.
Gregory topped the Southern League South & West Divisional scoring charts last season with 39 league goals, and has found the net nine further times for Stratford in all competitions this time round – despite missing chunks of it through injury.
Town’s Lewis Rankin has also signed a contract committing him to the club for the remainder of the season. The ex-Coventry City academy player has made a good impact at Butlin Road with three goals in his four starts and six appearances from the bench, although he is currently out of action with a hamstring strain.
# Tuesday evening’s scheduled trip to Biggleswade in the third round of the Red Insure (Southern) League cup was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. The tie has been rearranged for next Tuesday (13th), and the club coach will once more leave Butlin Road at 5pm. For latest information on this, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.