FOOTBALL: GARY Moran knows his side will need three points in their final game of the season against Kidsgrove Athletic as well as a helping hand from elsewhere if they are to beat the drop from the NPL South Division.
Rugby Town go into their final game this Saturday knowing that failure to better Loughborough Dynamo’s result will mean a bottom two drop zone finish for them.
Town host 12th placed Kidsgrove whilst their Leicestershire relegation rivals are at home to 13th placed Market Drayton, as the fight for non-league step four survival goes to the wire.
Rugby’s vastly superior goal difference means that a Loughborough defeat and a Town draw this weekend would be enough for Valley to escape the drop zone, but Moran is targeting a victory whilst hoping his rivals fail to complete what would represent a remarkable perfect concluding quartet for them.
“For the first time for a while it’s out of our hands, but we’ll be going for it this weekend and hope things go our way elsewhere,” said Moran. “Loughborough are the team under pressure now and that might affect their mindset and performance.
“They are up against a Market Drayton who are a real in and out side, so I guess it’s down to which one of those turns up on the day.”
Win, draw or lose and safe or down, Moran insists his first taste of football management has not put him off: “I knew it was going to be a tough job when we took things on especially with the squad we inherited.
“We have lost out far too regularly by the odd goal, and that’s often been down to switching off at crucial stages in the game.
“But this has not scared me at all. I’m a competitive person and experiences like this make you stronger. I know it’s no compensation to the fans, but being in situations like this probably make you learn quicker and hopefully things go our way this weekend and we can keep the club at this level.
Valley lost control of their own destiny after only picking up one point from their two Easter fixtures, whilst Loughborough’s 1-0 win at Gresley on Monday afternoon saw them sneak ahead of Gary Moran’s side by a point to set up the tense campaign finale.
Rugby had slipped to their 18th single goal margin defeat of their troubled 2016-17 term at home to Gresley on Saturday, before drawing at Bedworth two days later, with Town boss Moran reflecting on the highs and lows of the past couple of weeks:
He continued: “Having secured such a pleasing victory at Northwich with a real gritty display, it was such a disappointment to not be able to follow that up against Loughborough.
“It was a total off-day and we just didn’t turn up. Perhaps the pressure got to the lads and they were over focused on the occasion, but we certainly failed to put in the required level of performance.
The subsequent Gresley 2-1 home defeat meant that Town are still without a Butlin Road win this calendar year, and Valley’s failings in front of goal also cost them dearly at Bedworth on Monday where Chris Sterling’s strike was soon levelled up by the hosts.
Moran continued: “I felt there was only one team in the game on Monday, but as has been the case many times this season we just didn’t get the rub of the green when we needed it.
“I was disappointed with the goal we conceded, as we really should be shutting up shop at the point, and then the real blow comes with the news that Loughborough grabbed a late winner in their game.”
On the subject of his Town future, Moran – who took over the reins in September to kick off a third spell at his hometown club – concluded: “If the opportunity is there to continue next season, I would love another crack at it. But for now, we need to focus on doing the job on Saturday first and see where that leaves us.”
<b><i>Turn to page 30 for match reports and pictures from the Easter weekend.</i></b>