Having seen their fine start to the season came to a crashing end at nearby Daventry on Monday, Rugby Town now face two of the early Evostik Southern League – Central Division front runners in quick succession over the coming week.
Division new-boys Godalming visit Butlin Road this Saturday, and then Valley travel to Barton Rovers next Tuesday, with Town looking to bounce back from a 4-1 Bank Holiday defeat at Communications Park – their third league loss there within just 17 months.
The margin of the Daventry reverse was perhaps a little harsh on Dave Stringer’s side, with the hosts scoring twice in the game’s closing stages as Rugby chased the game - after an unfortunate Alex Gudger own goal had seen them fall behind just past the hour mark.
On a positive note however, Valley did brush aside Midland Alliance Studley last weekend in their opening FA Cup tie by the same score, setting up a First Qualifying Round against neighbours Bedworth next Saturday (September 8).
Saturday’s opponents Godalming were moved back into the Southern League structure from the Isthmian in the close season – having yo-yoed between the two since their promotion to this level in 2007.
They have started the 2012-13 in fine form, winning all three league fixtures – as well as their FA Cup opener last weekend at home to Ramsgate.
As a result, they sit in second, sandwiched between the two other clubs with 100% records – early leaders Royston and third placed Guildford, both of whom are also new faces in the Central Division this season.
Much of the G’s early success is down to their prolific striker Scott Harris, who followed up his cup hat-trick last Saturday with a further brace at home to Fleet to take his total for the season to six.
Town have a marksman of their own in form though, with Seb Lake-Gaskin having now scored in all four competitive games to-date – including two in the season opener at Ashford.
Stringer’s squad should be bolstered by return to the fold of midfielder Richie Allen, although he will be without another midfielder Richard Blythe – who took his tally to three goals so far this season with a strike at Studley.
In addition to replacing Blythe, the Valley boss may look to make further changes to his starting line-up following the Daventry set-back, so striker Tyrone Fagan, defender Ed Booth and wide man Michael Williams could all come into contention - although the latter blotted his copybook with a sending off for a rash tackle late in the Daventry game, having come on as a second half substitute.
Tuesday evening’s game at Sharpenhoe Road will see Town and Barton both looking to break a run of four games between the two sides that have ended in draws.
Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Lake-Gaskin earn Valley a point in a 1-1 draw in Bedfordshire, after Seb Hamilton had done the same in the reverse game at Butlin Road. 2010-11 was a similar story with a 2-2 (at home) and 1-1 (away) scorelines recorded.
Rovers have won two of their three opening matches this time round, and sit in fifth – four places ahead of Valley in the division’s early table.
n The coach to Barton on Tuesday evening will leave the clubhouse at 5pm prompt.