TOWN manager Carl Adams says his side can be confident going into the final three months of the United Counties League Premier Division promotion race ahead of Saturday’s (3pm) crunch clash with rivals Shepshed Dynamo.
A late 2-1 win at Cogenhoe United, where Kurtis Revan netted an 87th-minute winner after Danico Johnson’s fourth-minute opener was cancelled out by Nathanial Ansu, gave Valley their 14th win of the season and the perfect response to an untimely defeat by Quorn the previous weekend.
With results elsewhere going against them, Rugby drop to fourth, but are just two points off the summit having played a number of games more than their top-three rivals.
This weekend’s trip to Leicestershire against joint-top Dynamo is as big as they come for Rugby in the fixtures that remain, but Adams believes momentum is with his side in the battle for the two promotion places.
“There’s certainly some big games coming up in the promotion race over the next few weeks,” he said.
“After our game at Shepshed, we only have two more fixtures against teams in the top six though and both of those are at home – where we have generally been in good form.
“On the other hand, Holbeach and Shepshed have still got to play each other twice before the end of the season, and Loughborough have got a particularly tough run-in too.”
The picture could have looked a lot different, had it not been for Revan’s winner at the death last weekend which showcased Town’s mental fortitude to keep going until the final whistle.
“We certainly made it hard work ourselves but we got there in the end, which is the important thing at this time of the season,” said Adams.
“We missed too many good chances in the first half and then conceded a horrendous goal from a defensive perspective, which gave them a real boost going into the second half.
“But we kept plugging away and got the break we needed late on.”
A mistake by Cogenhoe goalkeeper Shay Griffiths gave Rugby the perfect start on Saturday when Johnson’s initial flick from Ryan Seal’s free-kick was spilled back into his path – allowing the forward to force the ball home at the second attempt.
Player-coach Justin Marsden threatened to double the lead shortly after with a well-struck shot that narrowly deflected over the bar, while defender Loyiso Recci remained a constant threat at corner-kick opportunities.
But after a string of defensive mistakes, the hosts were level when Nat Ansu was given the space to run at goal and slot the ball past Matt Hill in the 36th minute.
The Rugby ‘keeper had to remain alert to save low from Ceepy Logongo in the second half as Cogenhoe threatened to steal the lead, while a ten-minute sin-bin for Dylan Parker made life more difficult for the visitors.
With time running out, Revan emerged as the hero for Town with a bullet header after a blocked shot from Jamal Clarke fell into his path.
A return for Charlie Evans to the matchday squad is likely this weekend for the clash at The Dovecote Stadium, as Rugby begin a run of five away games in February.