TOWN manager Carl Adams targets keeping his side inside the top five by the end of the year, as Rugby prepare for their toughest month of fixtures to date.
Adams spoke after his side continued their unbeaten start to their United Counties League Premier Division campaign with a 3-3 draw at Quorn on Saturday.
Harry Holloway’s stoppage-time strike rescued a point for Valley, after goals from Charlie Evans and Kieran Fitzgerald had twice given the visitors the lead.
The Rugby boss was not one to mince his words after the draw in Loughborough, and said the result was one his side gratefully accepted.
“If you had offered me a draw beforehand I probably would have taken it, as I believe that Quorn will be up there challenging this season,” said Adams.
“In our next five games, we’ve got four of the current top seven plus a trip to Pinchbeck – who were one of the strongest teams last season, so it’s bound to be tough.
“We’ve got Shepshed, Loughborough University and Wellingborough to come over the next few weeks, and all three have also yet to lose, so it’s possible that we may drop two or three points by the time we get to October.
“But as long as we can keep ourselves in or around the top five by Christmas, I will be relatively happy.”
A 31st-minute strike from Evans was enough to send Rugby in at half time with the lead, but were pegged back six minutes after the interval when Dean Meikle escaped his marker at a corner kick to head home for the hosts.
Fitzgerald re-established the lead just after the hour mark after poking the ball home from Justin Marsden’s lay-off, before Quorn levelled with a quarter of an hour to go.
The goal, again from close range, was provided by Stephen Hart, giving the hosts the momentum to snatch what looked like a 90th-minute winner through Meikle’s header.
But fortune favours the brave, and Rugby, unnerved by the late deficit, drew themselves level through Holloway’s half-volley after a poor clearance by a Quorn defender.
With a number of teams in FA Vase action, Rugby next take on Shepshed Dynamo – a side fifth in the league at present with two wins from their two fixtures played.
Adams has some fresh concerns with a number of players potentially at risk of missing out in Saturday’s (3pm) game, and says it will be touch and go for their inclusion.
“We’ve had a real issue with illness so far this season, and we lost Ryan Seal and Sam Lockley to this at Quorn,” he said.
“They should both be available again, but Kieran Fitzgerald is struggling with a hamstring niggle, so we will have to see how that one pans out.”