FOOTBALL: IT CERTAINLY does not get any easier for Rugby Town this weekend as the NPL South Division basement side look to end their run of ten games without a league victory.
They make the trip to Barnsley to face current table toppers Shaw Lane, with Gary Moran’s side in danger of being cut adrift at the foot of the listings after two more away defeats in the past week at Chasetown and Loughborough.
Both reverses were once more by single goal margins, but at least Rugby did finally break their extended period of time without a league goal in the midweek game in Leicestershire, when Aaron Moses-Garvey’s successfully converted penalty ended a span of nearly nine hours of play without finding the net.
Charlie Faulkner’s strike later in the same game further reduced the three goal head start they had given the hosts, but alas it ended in Valley’s tenth defeat in thirteen league outings and they remain in bottom spot.
Only 21st placed Carlton are still within touching distance of Town, with the two clubs ahead of this in 20th and 19th (Stamford and Lincoln) six and seven points respectively in advance of Rugby.
Meanwhile Saturday’s opponents rounded off a perfect October of six straight wins with a 6-2 demolition of higher level Frickley in the FA Trophy last Saturday, whilst in the league Lane sit in pole position with just one defeat from fourteen fixtures to-date.
The South Yorkshire club just missed out on promotion to the NPL Premier last season after a play-off final defeat against Coalville, a fate which also beset Valley’s visitors this Tuesday evening AFC Rushden & Diamonds – who lost the equivalent Southern League game against St.Ives in May.
The Rushden game marks the start of a run of five home games for Town, with Moran no doubt hoping that they can gain some leverage from the advantage of a lengthy run on their own patch.
Moran secured the signing of central defender Mason Rowley ahead of the trip to Loughborough, with the 23 year old returning for a third spell at the Valley, after having left to join Basford at the start of the year.
Rowley briefly joined up with his old boss Dave Stringer at Chasetown last month, but returns to Butlin Road where he could ultimately team up with his younger brother Kyle in the heart of Town’s defence.
Kyle missed the Loughborough defeat though, as he recovered from the impact of his collision with Chasetown’s Josh Craddock at the weekend – which saw the home player suffer a broken leg.
Anthony Charles and Lewis Rankin also missed the midweek defeat, with David Kolodynski withdrawn early in the second half with a knee problem, so Moran will be sweating on the availability of the injured quartet ahead of this Saturday’s tough challenge.
There was first appearance in a Valley shirt for another new signing at Loughborough, with the introduction from the bench of ex-Rushden and Coleshill man Danny Campbell – making Rowley the elder and him the 50th and 51st player to feature in a Rugby shirt already this season.
*The club coach to Shaw Lane will leave at 11 a.m. In a change of departure point, this will leave from Melbros on Central Way.
*Town have been drawn at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup. The date of the game has yet to be announced.