Five games away out of next six
Rugby Town’s home defeat to Aylesbury United last Saturday saw the top three in the Evostik Southern League Central Division extend the gap over Valley.
Weekend victories for Kettering, Bedworth and Aylesbury FC came as fourth placed Town put in a second successive disappointing Butlin Road performance.
Unlike the previous game against Beaconsfield – where Dave Stringer’s side managed to rescue all three points with two late goals, Rugby were unable to match this turnaround feat against the Ducks, and now are eight points adrift of the division’s summit.
Considering this most recent stuttering home form, it may be a blessing in disguise that five of Valley’s next six fixtures are away ones – including trips on four of the next five Saturdays.
The first of these sees Town travel to Leighton, where they will be looking to extend an impressive run of seven straight victories over the Bedfordshire club.
The Reds are currently languishing in 19th place in the table, and have won just once in their last fourteen league outings – a span which includes the reverse fixture between the two sides in November, when goals from Richard Blythe and Sam Youngs secured Rugby a 2-1 success.
Blythe registered his only other goal of the season on Tuesday evening in defeat to Corby in the quarter final of the Red Insure sponsored League Cup, although Town were unfortunate not to register a third win over higher level opposition in this season’s competition after an encouraging second half performance.
Following on from Leighton, Valley are then scheduled to travel to Marlow next Saturday (21st February), before hosting Chalfont the week after.
Two further weekend trips to Potters Bar and Godalming follow this, with the recently postponed game at St.Ives having been rearranged in between these on Tuesday 10th March.
After this extended road trip, Rugby have seven further fixtures in which to settle their 2014/15 fate. With hopes of an automatic promotion spot now fading after last Saturday’s setback, they will be looking to cement their place in the play-offs instead.
The two teams currently just below the play-off zone – Barton and Royston – both visit Butlin Road before the end of the campaign, with Town currently holding a five and seven point respective advantage over them – although both contenders do have games in hand over Stringer’s side.
With Craig Kelly a doubt for the Leighton game after he pulled out of Tuesday’s cup tie in the warm-up, Stringer will be hoping that either Ben George or Alex Austin is available to fill a full-back slot.
# The club coach to Leighton will leave Butlin Road at 12 noon. For latest information on this, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.