Dale Belford - Rugby Town are heading in right direction - The Rugby Observer
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10th Aug, 2022

Dale Belford - Rugby Town are heading in right direction

Steve Carpenter 11th Nov, 2015 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016

VALLEY boss Dale Belford firmly believes his side are heading in the right direction despite falling to back-to-back defeats in both the league and cup.

With the three teams immediately above them (Belper, Carlton and Loughborough) all losing at the weekend, Valley missed the chance to catapult themselves up into 18th by throwing away a 2-1 lead against ex-boss Dave Stringer’s Chasetown on Saturday.

The result leaves Town a point adrift of safety although they do have a game in hand over both Carlton and Loughborough, and they also lost 2-0 at home to Ilkeston on Tuesday night in the first round of the League Cup.

This Saturday Valley host Newcastle Town in a rearranged fixture where they will be looking to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and Belford is encouraged by recent performances and the dressing room atmosphere.

He said: “I firmly believe that things are now going in the right direction. We had had three games unbeaten ahead of the Chasetown match, and there have been definite signs of improvement.

“After Saturday, it was the most disappointed that I have been since I arrived.  We were on top for large periods and I genuinely thought the game was there for the taking, but unfortunately we just couldn’t get it over the line.

“However the players work rate recently has been phenomenal, and I am very proud of the way some of them have stepped up.  Players seem to be hitting form at the moment and there is a buzz around the place, so hopefully this bodes well for the future.”

The visit of Newcastle replaces the scheduled trip to Shaw Lane Aquaforce, due to the Barnsley club’s continued participation in the FA Trophy.

This weekend’s opponents currently lie in 14th place in the table after a symmetrical start to the season which has seen them win six and lose six in their opening 15 matches.

Town rested key trio keeper Liam Roberts, defender Mason Rowley and striker David Kolodynski for Tuesday evening’s 2-0 League Cup defeat, which saw debuts for his son Courtney in goal and Portuguese winger Joshua Sarmento, as well as a first appearance in nearly two months for centre-half Tom Ryan.

One-time Benfica prospect Sarmento lasted less than half an hour before being replaced by another debutant Aaron Opoku.  Belford junior’s call-up meant it is now seven keepers in just 24 outings for Town this season, as he joined Scott Dutton, Ashley Bodycote, Jamie McAlindon, Niall Cooper, Raaj Gill and Roberts on the ever-revolving roster.

And Belford is planning to make a few alterations to his squad ahead of Saturday’s match.

“We’ve got a few decisions to make this week, and I expect that some players may be leaving and hopefully we will be able to add a couple too.

“Now that we are out of all the cup competitions and the number of midweek games has dropped, the focus will be on making sure we have a smaller, committed quality group of players.

“We know that we perhaps need to bring in a little more experience and steel in certain positions, and this is something we are working on.”

Belford is hoping to extend the loan deals for Roberts from Walsall and the Northampton pair Sam Warburton and Danny Clifton.

He added: “The initial discussions with Walsall are very positive, so hopefully Liam will stay at the club.  The Northampton situation is still to be determined, but we are in ongoing discussions with them too.”

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