Southern League – Central Division
Rugby Town 1 AFC Hayes 0
Town overcame the first half dismissal of Richard Blythe to battle through for a narrow victory at Butlin Road last Saturday.
Midfielder Blythe was sent off for a high-footed challenge on Hayes’s Lee McManus on 34 minutes, but the hosts generally coped well with the consequential numerical disadvantage – with David Kolodynski securing the points with a winner shortly after the half-time interval.
Rugby’s starting line-up showed one change from the midweek victory over Bedford, with Mason Rowley in for the absent Marcel Simpson. Sam Youngs – who had missed that game through illness – returned to the Valley bench.
Ahead of Blythe’s red card, the game had been a fairly uninspiring, scrappy affair, although Craig Kelly and Blythe had sent shots over the bar, whilst at the other end Joe Mellings applied a strong hand to beat away Richard Faux-James’s effort.
The visitors looked to make an immediate impact after the sending off, but McManus and Dan Tomlin both put in off-target strikes.
Town’s best chance of the opening period came after Lewis McBride had shown good skill on the edge of the penalty area, before firing in a rising shot which keeper Ryan Court turned away for a corner.
Rugby’s goal came just 43 seconds after the restart, when Kolodynski pounced on a mix-up between Charlie Goode and Court, and although Court blocked his first attempt, the striker was quick to follow-up with a second – scooping the ball over him and into the net.
The home side then put in their best spell of the game, with Court producing an excellent reflex save to deny Kolodynski at point blank range.
On the hour mark Youngs replaced Seb Lake-Gaskin, as boss Dave Stringer looked to bolster his numbers in the middle of the park, but the resulting outcome was that Town dropped deeper and the visitors finally started to ask questions of the Rugby defence.
Alex Gudger’s well-timed, last ditch tackle prevented Faux-James from getting a shot off in a dangerous position, and the same Hayes man also screwed a cross invitingly across the face of Mellings’s goal.
However the introduction of Jamie Towers saw Valley in the ascendance again, with Will Grocott almost opening his Rugby account from McBride’s cross, and Towers himself lifting the ball just over the bar after he had escaped his marker through the middle.
Late chances fell to Hayes’ substitutes Tashan Jordan and Michael Vincent, but Mellings was untroubled by their efforts, allowing Town to hold on for a deserved victory.