RUGBY TOWN: Two festive trips in busy schedule
Up to ninth in the league after four games unbeaten
Rugby Town’s last gasp victory at home to Boldmere lifted them up three places in the Premier Division of the Midland Football League ahead of the busy festive period.
Town travel to AFC Wulfrunians this Saturday, before another road trip on Boxing Day to Shepshed Dynamo before rounding off their 2017 schedule with a home fixture against Highgate United the following Saturday (30th).
With Rugby’s 2-1 success over Boldmere only one of four games to beat the weekend’s cold weather in the MFL Premier, Valley moved up to ninth in the table and now sit just two points behind a trio of clubs – Coventry United (in 6th), upcoming opponents Highgate (7th) and Heanor (8th), although the first two of these have played fewer games than Town.
Town themselves are just one point clear of the three clubs immediately below them – including two of their Christmas opponents Shepshed (10th) and Wulfrunians (12th).
The Boldmere victory extended Valley’s unbeaten league run to four matches, and was achieved courtesy of a 90th-minute winner from teenage debutant Sam Lockley.
The 18-year-old Strachan Foundation graduate and ex-Rugby Town JFC player made his Town senior bow from the bench with 25 minutes of the game remaining on Saturday, and had already made an impact with his contributions ahead of his late goal.
Rugby boss Dave Stringer had previously expressed his excitement at the recent signing of the local youngster, and also noted he had been impressed by his performances in training with the squad so far.
Stringer will be without another of his local contingent for the next two matches though, after it was confirmed that Brad Harris will miss the Wulfrunians and Shepshed games through suspension following his red card for dissent at the weekend.
Another one-time Rugby Town youth player Sean Castleton is likely to replace Harris alongside skipper James Dance in the heart of the Valley defence. Castleton had impressed at centre-back earlier in the campaign making 16 starts, before Harris was preferred in the role just over a month ago.
Saturday’s game in Staffordshire will mark a third meeting between the two sides already this season.
The Wulfs were victorious at Butlin Road back in October with a Nick Turton double outdoing a Ruben Wiggins-Thomas penalty, before Town gained some revenge with a comfortable 4-0 win in the Birmingham Senior Cup at the Castlecroft Stadium later that same month.
Rugby return to Shepshed’s Dovecote Stadium for the first time in the league for more than 14 years.
The two clubs met then in the Southern League Western Division, but Dynamo’s shift to the NPL structure and subsequent relegation down to level five of the non-league pyramid in 2012 has kept them apart since.
The last league game between the sides saw a solitary Michael Hegarty strike settle the contest at Butlin Road in April 2004.
# The club coach to Wulfrunians on Saturday will leave Butlin Road at 12 mid-day, with the Boxing Day excursion due to depart at 12.15pm.
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