RUGBY TOWN prepared for their UCL Premier Division clash with second placed Deeping Rangers this Saturday (3pm) after victories over Harborough Town and Rothwell Corinthians.
Town were made to dig in at Corinthians on Tuesday night in a game that was short of much excitement, despite the 3-1 scoreline.
Strikes from Edwin Ahenkorah, Dan Summerfield and Charlie Evans – who followed up from netting both goals last Saturday – took third placed Rugby past their lowly hosts.
Evans now has six goals in his previous three games, taking his tally to fourteen for the season, as he continues to stand-out as one of Valley’s key figures on the pitch.
Manager Carl Adams made two changes in the mid-week victory to break a run of three unaltered line-ups, bringing Josh Steele and Simeon Tulloch into the eleven for Fazel Koriya and Lewis Rankin.
A re-shuffled formation moved Liam Francis into unfamiliar territory up-front, a move which almost backfired when nearly going behind inside the first minute from a penalty.
Fortunately though, Matt Hill kept out Calum Plowright’s spot kick after Loyiso Recci had pushed Craig Maisiri inside the box.
Ahenkorah’s goal in the 17th minute came very much against the run of play, not that Rugby would mind.
He picked his spot and hammered into the corner after Dom Perkins’ shot was initially blocked.
Francis went close with a fierce strike whilst Maisiri gently nudged a header at Hill from a promising position.
The hosts looked determined to fight for an equaliser after the break and Hill had to be alert to deal with a hit from Plowright, which preceded a flurry of Rothwell corners.
Dan Cooper tested the Valley keeper leading to a corner, which resulted in Kalun Peniasko’s leveller.
Town responded through a strike against the bar from Evans, though it was Rothwell who were in the ascendancy and most likely to score.
It took Summerfield’s barnstorming strike from distance to regain the lead for Rugby, his long-range drive proved unstoppable as it continued to rise until hitting the roof of the net.
Rugby had their keeper to thank once more after saving from Plowright, although Ahenkorah almost settled it from a promising position.
It took the final minute of the game for affairs to be settled.
Justin Marsden played the ball through to Evans, who duly clashed the ball against the base of the post and in.
Daniel Forbes’ 18th minute opener for Harborough on Saturday was cancelled out by Evans’ tap-in from a goalmouth scramble, before he struck the winner after Harry Holloway’s effort was parried into his path.
The previous two matches will perhaps offer hope to Adams, as despite not playing to their full potential, Town still walked away with victory.
On the flip side, the Rugby manager will undoubtedly use aspects of the previous two performances as a motivating tool to step up against Deeping.
Rangers however, head into the game on the back of an 11th straight victory at Pinchbeck United last weekend, overtaking Rugby as the side most likely to topple leaders Daventry Town.
A win for Town would see them rise back into second, and with a game in hand on Daventry – therefore Saturday’s fixture will have an enormous bearing on Rugby’s fate this season.
The previous meeting between the two had resulted in a 1-1 draw, Danico Johnson opening the scoring prior to a late leveller from the visiting Deeping.
Daventry have weakened their grip on the top in recent weeks and head to 10th placed Newport on Saturday.
A coach to Deeping will leave from outside Rugby School at 11am, and from Butlin Road at 11:15am – travelling fans are asked to contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.