22nd Jan, 2020

Home advantage can give Town festive cheer in the league, says Melvin

Ben Tyler 11th Dec, 2019

RUGBY Town director Neil Melvin is hoping a run of home games can galvanise a surge up the United Counties League Premier Division table over the Christmas period.

Following Valley’s narrow 3-2 loss at Deeping Rangers, in which Carl Adams’ ten men suffered a late collapse, the club now face three successive fixtures at Butlin Road to close the year – starting with Saturday’s (3pm) meeting with Anstey Nomads.

In last weekend’s defeat, two goals either side of half time from Ryan Seal put Rugby 2-1 up and cancelled out Tom Garrick’s opener, despite Charlie Evans being dismissed a minute before the break.

The man disadvantage eventually told in the final 15 minutes of play however when Garrick struck twice more to seal his hat-trick and win the game for the promotion hopefuls.

Rugby slipped three places to seventh as a result, but with an extra game scheduled at home against Oadby Town this month (Saturday December 21), Melvin is confident the club can get back on track.

“We appear to be in great form at Butlin Road at the moment following the thrashings of Sleaford and Desborough, so hopefully this run of games there will be a fruitful one for us,” he said.

“It appears that Oadby have ground grading issues which mean they are unable to host games there at the moment, so we were offered the choice of swapping the home and away fixtures or postponing the match – so we’ll be making a midweek trip later in the season instead.”

In Saturday’s trip to Outgang Road in Lincolnshire, Lee Thomas and Keenah Rosser made a return to the starting line-up having missed out on Rugby’s record 12-0 win over Desborough Town.

It was the hosts who had the first sighter of goal when Dan Jarvis whipped a curling effort wide of the post, with their next attempt finding the back of the net when Garrick rounded Matt Hill to tap home.

Eight minutes later, Rugby were level when Seal fired home from the spot after Danico Johnson was brought down by Deeping goalkeeper Lewis Elsom.

The visitors grew into the game after the equaliser and threatened through Dylan Parker and Johnson, before another turning point in the form of a straight red for Evans followed a minute before the break.

Initially the ten men looked unfazed by the imbalance in numbers, a notion confirmed by Seal’s second of the game to put Valley in front.

He buried a strike past Elsom from James Hancock’s lay-off in the 64th minute, nothing more than the away side had deserved.

But when Rangers levelled the game after a breakaway that resulted in Garrick finishing in the midst of goalmouth scramble, there was only going to be one winner as the rejuvenated hosts went in search of a vital third.

They found it four minutes later when Garrick out-paced Liam Francis and lobbed the ball over the stranded Hill to win the game.

With Evans suspended and without the recently departed Fazel Koriya and Jazz Luckie to call upon, Adams has taken the decision to register academy players Meluleki Mpande, Caine Elliott and Lewis Padmore for the upcoming fixtures.

Saturday’s opponents Anstey are currently 14th in their first season since promotion, with Rugby coming out on top in a 5-1 away victory in the previous meeting between the two sides on the second weekend of the campaign.

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