RYAN Seal’s strike five minutes from time put Rugby Town in good spirits for the FA Vase this weekend after a morale-boosting victory over Peterborough Northern Star.
The late strike was enough to push Carl Adams’ men up to seventh in the United Counties League Premier Division, although they remain 12 points behind runaway leaders Shepshed Dynamo – who have won all nine games and not conceded a goal in the league this term.
Peterborough had the first opportunity of the afternoon when Craig Smith forced shot stopper Matt Hill into an instinctive save, with Jack Bloodworth letting Valley off the hook with the follow-up.
The visiting keeper was also kept busy, and performed his duties to perfection when rushing out to charge down Dylan Parker’s attempted lob, before blocking Jazz Luckie’s drive with his legs.
Liam Francis later put the ball on a plate for Charlie Evans to put Rugby in front before the break, but he was unable to provide the finish as the half ended goalless.
Jamal Clarke cleared the bar with the first attempt of the second half, while Luckie came within inches of finding the opener when cracking the frame of the post with his shot.
Instead, it was down to Seal to finally apply the finishing touch when firing home after Evans saw his shot tipped onto the post.
Valley’s victory did not go without controversy however, when Parker was shown a second yellow after being adjudged by the referee to have dived following a tackle by the touchline.
Adams’ hand will be forced when it comes to his team selection on Saturday (3pm) against a fellow step nine side in Gresley, who play host for the first round tie.
Recent signing Ben Bradshaw is cup-tied for the encounter, with Parker misses out for the same reason, meaning his suspension at the weekend is rendered meaningless and will allow him to take part in Rugby’s next league encounter.
Club secretary Doug Wilkins explained: “Dylan played for FC Stratford in an earlier round of the Vase, so he would have been cup-tied for the Gresley game anyway.
“But we have checked with the FA, and they have confirmed that his suspension will be served this weekend too, so he will back available for the trip to Boston the week after.”
Providing a boost for the Vase tie is the returning duo of Loyiso Recci and Lewis Hayden, who previously sat out Rugby’s recent encounters through suspension.
Gresley are without a victory so far in nine games in the Midland Football League Premier Division, and therefore form an ideal opponent in Town’s quest to bring back a trophy that they famously lifted at Wembley 36 years ago.