RUGBY Town’s play-off credentials will be well and truly tested over the coming few days with the top two sides in Northern Premier League South division visiting Butlin Road in quick succession.
Having stretched their current unbeaten stretch to nine games last weekend with a draw at Kidsgrove, Valley will host league leaders Stafford Rangers this Saturday before taking on Coalville next Tuesday.
And Valley boss Dale Belford is looking forward to watching his side test themselves against two of the top teams in the league, with Rangers expected to bring a large away following.
“A while back, the prospect of facing Stratford and Coalville within such a short space of time would have been a worrying one,” said an upbeat Belford.
“However with the way we are playing and the atmosphere around the club at the moment, we can look forward to the games and go into them with a much more relaxed attitude.
“That is not to say we won’t be fully focused on winning them, but the pressure is all on the opposition – especially after Stafford’s defeat last weekend.
“It should be a good day on Saturday. It’s rumoured that they could be bringing a couple hundred (or more) supporters down to Butlin Road, so it would be good if we can get a decent local contingent in for the game too.
“The fans have been magnificent since I came here, and I truly believe that the success we have had on the pitch is in no small part due to the contributions and encouragement from the terraces.”
For the fourth time in less than two months, Rugby found themselves a man to the good and once more they failed to take advantage after letting slip a goal lead at Kidsgrove, as they had done previously at home to Tividale.
Having also drawn against ten man Newcastle at the start of January, in addition to a disappointing second half performance in victory over a Loughborough side a player short, Town have yet to fully exploit an opposing side’s indiscipline.
But Belford shrugged off the disappointment of more dropped points and instead is remaining focused on the positives.
“I’m just delighted to keep the run going. At this stage of the season, I’m happy to take any result, and whilst it’s nice to have the performances as well, continuing to accumulate points has got to be most important thing.”
Stafford enjoy a thirteen point advantage over Valley’s opponents on Tuesday Coalville – who themselves have also lost only four times in the league this season, with the Leicestershire club having three games in-hand over the leaders.
Belford is hoping to have a full squad to select from at the weekend, with his only slight doubt concerning Kevin Thornton – who limped off towards the end of the first half at Kidsgrove.
The Valley manager added: “Kev felt a bit of tightness in his hamstring, so we felt it was best not to risk it any further.
“I spoke to him at the start of the week though and he says it feels okay now, so hopefully he will be fine for the weekend.”