TWO first half goals were enough to get Rugby Town back to winning ways in the Northern Premier League South Division although a late goal by visitors Newcastle Town did set up an unnecessarily tense finale to the game, reports Jon Venner.
Callum Powell and Kevin Thornton had given the hosts the deserved reward for their dominance ahead of the interval, but Valley dropped their tempo around the hour mark and were left hanging on for the three points by the final whistle thanks to a 2-1 win.
Town boss Dale Belford made one change from the previous league outing, with Tom Ryan selected at centre-half meaning a return to midfield for captain Steve Towers.
Powell opened the scoring and also his league tally for the club with just three minutes on the board. He pounced on a loose ball to send a deflected volley out of the reach of Newcastle keeper David Parton from around 25 yards.
It should have been two shortly after when Jake Healy got in down the right and from his resulting effort David Kolodynski somehow failed to help the ball into an empty net from close range.
A typically speculative Kolodynski attempt from a wide position went wide after Parton had scuffed his kick-out, as Rugby continued to impress.
The second came after a quick up-field punt by Liam Roberts was controlled well in the box by Kolodynski, drawing a push in the back from Louis Downs – enabling Thornton to power home the resulting penalty past Parton.
Parton then saved well from Healy before the visitors’ only real chance of the opening period saw a regulation save by Roberts to Tom France’s weak shot to Cohen Bramall’s centred ball.
Normal service was resumed after the break though, with both Thornton and Healy putting decent openings wide of the target, and a further dangerous cross by Healy was well cut-out by Parton.
However with Rugby’s intensity visibly dropping, Newcastle suddenly came into the game. Harry Clayton fired one wide, and then three goalbound attempts from Kyle Blake, Michael Lennon and Ben Mills were all blocked in quick succession.
The inevitable goal came when an unmarked Blake stabbed home from ten yards, setting up a nervous end to the game for Valley.
A Mills scissor-kick to Lennon’s cross went wide, as did Aaron Carter’s header to a corner, although at the other end Rugby did threaten a couple of times on the break too – with Kolodynski volleying wide and Powell denied by a good saving tackle as he was about to shoot, after Kolodynski and substitute Aaron Opoku had combined well.