Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer was left ruing his side’s lack of precision in front of goal, after watching them drop further valuable points in Saturday’s 0-0 home draw with Chalfont.
However, despite this latest setback – which saw Valley slip to third in the Calor Central Division table, Stringer is confident that Town can still achieve promotion to the Premier Level at the fourth time of asking.
He said: “It’s certainly been a disappointing few weeks – especially results-wise, and we’ve missed out for different reasons in a number of games that we should have won.
“At times it seems we have missed chances that would be easier to score than miss. We’re dominating whole halves of games and creating plenty of opportunities, but just not taking them at the right time.
“At the weekend, if we had scored early I’m fairly sure we would have gone on to win comfortably. However when you don’t do this, the opposition gets a foothold and believes themselves they can get something from the game.”
On the broader subject of promotion, Stringer added: “We need to dig in now and focus on making the play-offs as a minimum.
“I’m not totally ruling out winning the division, but I’m also a realist and it’s going to be difficult from the position we’re in now – although as I’ve said many times recently, I still think there could be a number of twists and turns to come.”
Town’s recent dip in form has come just as others around them appear to be kicking-on, with the rest of the top eight all winning last Saturday as Rugby were struggling to see off their mid-table opponents.
As a result, Slough leapfrogged Valley into second, and a further win for the division’s dark horses Barton (in 5th) on Tuesday saw them then move a point short of Town. Local rivals Daventry (in 4th) share that same status, and with Kettering just outside of the play-offs also within touching distance of Rugby, it is going to be a tight end to the campaign.
Kettering host leaders Dunstable in the weekend’s big match-up, whilst another mid-table side - St.Ives - visit Butlin Road with Stringer looking to lift his side ahead of the game.
He said: “We will be working extremely hard in the week, as we know how important every game is now.
“We then face both Slough and Barton over the Easter weekend, and in the context of the table, those games are massive, but we must focus on getting the three points we desperately need this Saturday first.”
Lewis McBride dislocated his shoulder after coming on as a substitute on Saturday, after he had missed the whole of March due to a trip to Australia.
The attacking midfielder had only flown back in that day, but his comeback was short-lived, and Stringer will now be without his services for the remainder of the season.
Winger Greg Kaziboni also sits-out this weekend’s game – serving the second of a three-match ban, although Stringer was hopeful that defender Nathan Haines would be fully fit again and available for selection.
Midfielders Aaron King and Luke Bottomer may also be back in the squad, although another recent signing Ben Gallant is still out of contention due to a recurring calf injury.
# Saturday’s home game will kick-off at 3.07pm in line with the rest of the major fixtures around the country, as a tribute to the 96 football supporters who tragically died at the Liverpool-Nottingham Forest Hillsborough F.A.Cup Semi Final twenty five years ago this weekend.