JUSTIN Marsden’s classy 53rd minute strike ultimately settled an end-to-end affair as Rugby Town beat Uxbridge 3-2 in the Evo-Stik Southern League – Central Divisionto end the visitors’ eight match unbeaten run.
It was a game with plenty of goalmouth incident and a threadbare Valley side stood up well to their opponents’ at times over-physical approach without necessarily hitting the heights of their free-flowing football from the previous week’s home demolition of Egham.
Town boss Dave Stringer made two changes to the line-up from that 6-0 victory, with new striker Richard Gregory making his debut and club captain Robbie Banks stepped in at full-back .
Gregory made an immediate impact when he carefully directed his free-kick from 20 yards out around the wall and past Paul McCarthy after just seven minutes just after Uxbridge had almost grabbed an early goal of their own when Kevin Warner almost poked home after Richard Morris had initially spilled the ball ahead of Gregory’s opener.
The goal clearly buoyed Valley and Sam Youngs saw his long range shot drift just wide shortly after.
But the visitors continued to look threatening at the other end and Morris was quickly out of his box to deal with a short Alex Gudger back-pass, with Lewis Cole and Chris Moore then playing ping-pong with each other with a series of dangerous deliveries across the face of the goalmouth.
Mitchell Piggon’s whipped cross almost set Gregory up for a second, but McCarthy was down to block his close range effort, and Youngs went even closer with a strike from distance with McCarthy again doing well to tip the ball over the bar.
Youngs finally found the net with a smart low finish from a Town short corner routine on 26 minutes but any hopes of going in at half-time with a two-goal advantage were shattered when Wayne Carter’s ball into the penalty area fell for the unmarked Warner to score just before the break.
Uxbridge were almost level shortly after the restart when Mark Dennison blazed Carter’s corner over the bar before Rugby once more increased their lead with the goal of the game.
Marsden showed good feet and then dispatched a curling strike past the diving McCarthy after Gregory had worked hard to move the ball on to him.
However Warner’s second goal from Cole’s pass soon set up a tense final half-an-hour for the hosts, although Valley did continue to create chances themselves with both Marsden and sub Lewis Rankin having decent shots deflected past the frame.
Another Gregory free-kick fizzed into McCarthy’s arms, with the visiting keeper then denying Town’s new signing one more time at close quarters.
Uxbridge pushed hard in the final minutes to replicate their feat of the reverse fixture at the end of November when a late equaliser had earned them a 3-3 draw but this time Town held firm to claim their fourth consecutive story.
Sam Youngs was on target for Town during the 3-2 win over Uxbridge. (s) Photo by Martin Pulley