Southern League – Central Division
Rugby Town 3 Bedford Town 2
VALLEY were soon back to winning ways following their opening day disappointment, when they came from behind to see off the recently-relegated Eagles.
Rugby gave a first appearance to Will Grocott at full-back – meaning a role further forward for Lewis McBride and a place on the bench for Justin Marsden, with Richard Blythe also replacing the unavailable Sam Youngs.
Blythe and James Jepson had both failed to take advantage of early chances for the home side, before Bedford took the lead after a pacey attacking move ended with Tom Liversedge sliding in to help home Sam Macrae’s cross from the right.
Tom Glasscoe could have made it two shortly after, but Valley keeper Joe Mellings did well to deny him – after the full-back had got in behind Craig Kelly.
Mellings’ counterpart Lee Crockett then pulled a neat save to a well-struck effort by David Kolodynski, as the hosts appeared to finally settle into their game.
Kolodynski then earned his side an indirect free-kick right on the edge of the penalty, and from the resulting set-play, Nathan Fox scored for the second successive match – with his strike taking a slight deflection as it passed Crockett on its way into the net.
Lewis McBride then nearly clipped the ball over the keeper’s head after good build-up play by Kolodynski and Seb Lake-Gaskin, as Valley ended the half in the ascendance.
However it was Bedford that nearly regained the lead shortly after the interval, when Mellings was down well to keep out Neil King’s free-kick – before executing an even better stop to deny Liversedge from the rebound.
Kolodynski was at the heart of most of Rugby’s threatening moments, heading Grocott’s searching cross wide of the frame, and then almost lobbing Crockett with a typically audacious effort when he beat the visitors’ offside trap.
Lake-Gaskin’s low shot from twenty yards cannoned back off the post, before the same player gave Valley the lead when Crockett could only palm his instinctive strike up and into his goal – after more good work on the right by Grocott.
Crockett redeemed himself with a fine one-handed save to James Jepson’s long range shot, before Kolodynski looked like he had sealed the game when he showed good control to bring down Fox’s deep cross to the far post and then fired the ball high into the net on 75 minutes.
However the Eagles were soon back in the game, when Jordan Jarrold fired home under Mellings with his first touch following his introduction from the bench.
Jarrold’s next involvement saw him put in a dangerous cross which Rugby skipper Alex Gudger just managed to slice behind for a corner.
There were a few further nervy moments for Town ahead of the final whistle, with Neil King firing one wide and his brother (and ex-Valley man) Aaron flashing a cross across the face of the goalmouth, but Valley held on for their first maximum return of the season.