Valley’s biggest game in years

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Rugby Town’s young squad will need to dig deep into their reserves for one last time to secure a place in next season’s Step Three of the non-league football pyramid.

Their gruelling victory over Beaconsfield has earned them a Monday 3pm home play-off final against Biggleswade, as they look to round-off their record-breaking campaign in style.

The Waders earned their place in the Butlin Road decider by virtue of their midweek 2-1 success at Godalming, at the same time as Sam Youngs was securing the only goal of Rugby’s semi showdown.

It was a nervy evening overall for Valley, as they replicated the club’s renowned fighting cup spirit of years gone by – three decades to the day of their famous FA Vase win at Wembley.

The final is likely to be another tight affair, but Town will be hoping home advantage will again be a critical factor.

After the semi-final win, club director Mike Yeats praised the contribution of the fans.

He said: “They have been great all season – both home and away – and they really got behind the team tonight, especially in the second half.

“Hopefully as many of them as possible can be back here on Monday afternoon and we can get the promotion that our performances have certainly deserved this year.

“It’s undoubtedly the biggest game we have hosted for many years at Butlin Road, and it would be great to see the town turnout in force for it.”

Biggleswade finished in fourth place in the Southern League Central Division – another good return for the Bedfordshire club who entered this level of the pyramid for the first time in 2009.

A play-off semi-final defeat to Daventry in 2011 represented their best season previously, and Craig Daniel’s 80th minute strike on Tuesday evening ensured they went at least one stage further this time round.

However Valley finished eleven points and two places ahead of them in the final table, after they rounded off the main season with another comfortable victory at Chalfont last weekend.

In the two matches between the clubs already this season, Monday’s visitors hold the advantage though.

Goals from Seb Lake-Gaskin and Tyrone Fagan gave Rugby a point in the home game back in August 2012, but another clincher from Daniel won Biggleswade the game in the return fixture in February – although Valley did play the majority of the second half with ten men following the dismissal of influential midfielder Sam Belcher.

Belcher is one of three first team regulars that have missed out on the finale to the season due to injury, with Craig Kelly and Robbie Banks also both relegated to a literal supporting role from the stands.

Town boss Dave Stringer will be hoping that his depleted squad is not reduced further after Fazel Koriya limped from the field on Tuesday, and also that the other inevitable bumps and strains at this time of the year heal ready for that Bank Holiday D-day.