THERE was a double cause for celebration for Rugby Town supporters after Tuesday evening’s 3-2 Southern League Red Insure League Cup victory over Redditch United at Butlin Road.
Not only did Dave Stringer’s side put in an impressive performance to dispatch one of the current Premier Division high-flyers, but the game also marked a first start in a Valley shirt in nearly 21 months for their ex-skipper Robbie Banks.
Banks suffered a horrific double lower leg break at Royston back in February 2013 and the road to recovery since has been a long and problematic one for the popular midfielder.
The 27-year-old has shown commendable perseverance to make a successful return to football, and hopefully he can go on to regain the form he showed before the potentially career-threatening injury struck.
Valley reached the last 16 after seeing off in-form Redditch on Tuesday, a team who were unbeaten in their previous eight league and cup games, scoring 34 goals in the process.
The visitors had taken the lead, but two classic David Kolodynski strikes and a well-taken Justin Marsden goal won the tie for Town, who more than held their own against a side currently sitting in fourth place in the league’s Premier Division
Lewis McBride and Marsden both went close for Rugby in the opening exchanges but it was Redditch who went ahead on 15 minutes when Jamie Spencer tapped in from a few yards out after Leavi Oshungbure had crossed to the near post.
Valley were soon level though, with Kolodynski clipping the ball home from the angle after McBride had helped it into the penalty area.
And Marsden then gave Rugby the lead when his low strike beat Catlow, with McBride once more providing the valuable assist at the end of flowing move from the hosts.
The visitors had their best spell of the game immediately after the restart and it was no surprise when Jermaine Hylton restored the game to a state of parity once more with a powerfully hit goal from 20 yards out which gave Richard Morris no chance.
Kolodynski then drew a good save from Catlow and substitute Lewis Rankin struck the post from the subsequent play, before Kolodynski sealed the victory with a trademark lob over the keeper’s head with just five minutes of normal time remaining.
The cup win came just days after Town had seen their run of three straight victories in the Southern League Central Division ended at Butlin Road by hard-working Aylesbury on Saturday.
Town had arguably started the game on top with Lewis McBride and Kolodynski missing early chances for Valley, until Brian Haule glanced a header past Richard Morris against the run of play on 33 minutes.
Haule’s second five minutes later extended Aylesbury’s advantage and, despite Justin Marsden almost immediately pulling one back for the hosts, Rugby failed to recapture the form of previous games, with Aston Goss ultimately sealing their fate just past the hour mark.
Craig Kelly and substitute Robbie Banks both sent shots from distance past the post, before Valley’s best opportunity to score a consolation came when both Kolodynski and Marsden broke free onto a long ball over the top with Kolodynski taking responsibility with a rising strike that was tipped over the bar by Aylesbury keeper James Weatherill.