FOOTBALL: TOWN’S nine match unbeaten run finally came to an end last Saturday, when AFC Wulfrunians made them pay for a lack of a goalscoring finish at Butlin Road, writes Jon Venner.
Valley only had a successfully converted Ruben Wiggins-Thomas spot-kick to show for a number of decent chances created on the day, but alas this was sandwiched between a double strike from Wulfs’ forward Nick Turton.
Rugby boss Dave Stringer made two changes from the previous weekend’s stalemate against Coventry United, with Josh Ruff returning from a one match suspension in midfield and Aiden Print back at full-back.
The hosts started well and David Kolodynski came within a whisker of giving them the lead in the opening minutes when he ran onto Wiggins-Thomas’s flick-on only to lift the ball agonisingly wide of the post.
Sean Castleton also just missed the target with his connection to Ruff’s corner, before Turton looked to threaten the home goal – but was denied by an excellent covering block.
Turton did break the deadlock shortly after though, when he outmuscled Castleton for a high ball midway into the Rugby half, before sending his thirty yard plus effort beyond the reach of keeper Niall Cooper and into the net.
Fabian Smith’s diving header soon drew a decent save from Cooper’s counterpart John Bateman, although the equaliser was not long coming when Wulfrunians’ sub Rhys Linton tugged back Wiggins-Thomas in the box and the striker stepped up himself to stroke the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.
Kolodynski curled one wide in the lead-up to half-time, with Craig Kelly doing well at the other end to take one off the boot of Turton as he was about to strike in a dangerous position.
There was a slow start to the second half, with James Dance’s header over the bar the only real chance of its opening quarter of an hour.
Cooper’s good fingertip save to Jake Sedgemore’s goalbound free-kick ended the dull period though, with Kolodynski then missing a near identical opportunity to his lobbed attempt in the opening minutes – with the ball again bouncing just the wrong side of the upright.
The visitors struck the decisive blow with twenty minutes remaining when Callum Parker’s initial shot struck the post to allow Turton to smash home the rebound.
Valley probed for another equaliser for the remainder of the game, with Ben Ashby twice wasting decent chances and Bateman denying Wiggins-Thomas with a fine one-handed save.
Ashby got in again down the left hand side, but his pull-back was just behind Wiggins-Thomas, whilst sub Chadd Birch also shot straight at Bateman in the closing stages.
Picture: Martin Pulley.