RUGBY TOWN: Valley slip to third after Corinthians game postponed

Lewis Rankin in Rugby Town's last game, their 4-1 win over Kirby Muxloe   Pictures by Martin Pulley
Lewis Rankin in Rugby Town's last game, their 4-1 win over Kirby Muxloe Pictures by Martin Pulley

Two home games now against Wellingborough and Harborough

Rugby Town go into this Saturday’s home game against Wellingborough Town having slipped down into third place in the United Counties League Premier Division table.

Edwin Ahenkorah in Valley's last game at Butlin Road

Edwin Ahenkorah in Valley's last game at Butlin Road

Valley have swapped places with the in-form Deeping Rangers following the Lincolnshire club’s 2-1 success over Sleaford on Tuesday evening, meaning Rangers have now cut Daventry’s lead at the top to seven points.

Both Town - who are a further three points adrift - and Deeping have a game in hand over the league leaders, with just one promotion place likely to be available come the conclusion of the season at the end of April.

However before then, Daventry still have to face Deeping both home and away, with Rugby making the short trip to Communications Park on Easter Monday. Deeping and Rugby also have to play each other one more time, with that game set for the end of this month.

Therefore whilst it is difficult to look beyond the prospect of the Northamptonshire side - who have lost just one league game so far - ultimately lifting the divisional trophy, the existence of these four key fixtures could still have some bearing on its final destination.

Rugby had joined the majority of the UCL in sitting things out last weekend, after their scheduled trip to lowly Rothwell Corinthians was called off due to a frozen pitch at Seargents Lawn. The Rothwell fixture has already been rearranged and is now scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 19.

Eynesbury Rovers’ home encounter with Northampton ON Chenecks was the only UCL Premier game to survive the freeze, although two of its members - Deeping and Leicester Nirvana - were in FA Vase action.

Both clubs faced long trips, with Rangers in Devon (at Willand) and Nirvana going to Kent (for Canterbury), with both unsuccessful in their attempts at reaching the Quarter Final stage of the national competition, losing out 3-2 and 2-1 respectively.

This Saturday’s visitors to Butlin Road Wellingborough have had a mixed campaign so far - winning eight and losing ten of their 24 matches played to-date, and they currently sit 12th of the 20- team table.

The Doughboys have failed to win in their last four outings, although these have included them facing Daventry (twice) and Deeping, and they did manage a draw against the former at the beginning of January.

Rugby’s game at Wellingborough’s Dog and Duck Stadium in the reverse fixture just before Christmas saw Carl Adams’s men return home with a narrow 2-1 victory - thanks to a first half double from Lewis Rankin.

It was a gritty performance by Valley on the day, and was achieved - for the most part - a player short, after the early controversial dismissal of Town defender Liam Francis for a late tackle.

That December match-up saw the two sides renew rivalries with each other following a 31-year break, with a number of games having been played between them in the Southern League in the 1980’s.

Wellingborough last came to Butlin Road in August 1987, when a Les Ebrey brace and an Ian Crawley goal gave the hosts a 3-1 league cup tie victory.

Having had an enforced break at the weekend, Adams moved quickly to ensure his team maintained their match fitness by arranging a practice game at MFL Premier Division side Highgate on Tuesday evening.

The Town boss was happy with the way the game went describing it as “a good exercise” and also that his side “played some nice stuff”, after watching them earn a 2-1 victory at United’s Coppice ground thanks to goals from Charlie Evans and another one for the prolific of late Rankin.

Adams should have a full squad available for this Saturday’s game, which is the first of two consecutive Butlin Road fixtures - with current 14th-placed Harborough due to visit next Saturday (16th).

# Daventry and Deeping both face potentially tricky trips to top half opposition this weekend, with games at Cogenhoe (7th) and Oadby (8th) respectively.

Deeping are also in midweek action with a home game against Desborough (10th) next Tuesday.