RUGBY Town get ready to welcome Pinchbeck United on Saturday (3pm), after edging past Wellingborough Whitworth 2-1 last weekend.
Valley extended their winning run to six matches with their most recent victory, but still trail Daventry Town at the top of the UCL Premier Division by eight points, albeit with a game in hand still to play.
Carl Adams’ side were expected to claim a more convincing victory than they did, against a side stuck to the bottom of the table, having claimed eight points all season.
But that would not prove the case, falling behind in the opening half-hour, and having Keenah Rosser and Edwin Ahenkorah scoring a quickfire double in the second-half to overturn the deficit.
Josh Steele made just his tenth start of the campaign, as Dom Perkins was rested, and it became clear the state of the pitch would have a bearing on the quality of play that would be allowed.
Charlie Evans fashioned a chance when bursting past his man to claim a ball played in behind the Whitworth defence, but he wasn’t able to test the keeper with his shot.
Moments later, Whitworth keeper Adam Honour spilled a Rosser cross, Lewis Rankin was there to meet it but could not find the net on the rebound.
Evans went closest for Rugby in the first-half, heading Loyiso Recci’s delivery onto the frame of the bar, before Wellingborough went ahead.
Breaking away after Recci and Simeon Tulloch dallied over a ball outside the Whitworth penalty area, Remy Brittain crossed for Ben Mason to head into the top corner.
An equaliser did not arrive before half-time, despite chances for Recci and Liam Francis at set-pieces, whilst Justin Marsden’s effort from the penalty area edge flew over the bar.
Rugby hauled themselves level on 55 minutes, when Honour again flapped at a cross, this time being punished when Rosser headed home.
Marsden had another effort from range that was tipped over, leading to a corner where Recci headed across to Ahenkorah to fire in for a Rugby lead.
Town attempted to press home their advantage further, but were unable to find the net again in the contest.
A long punt upfield from goalkeeper Matt Hill presented an opportunity to Ahenkorah, beating the opposing goalkeeper to the ball but having the resulting effort blocked.
Defender Francis went within a whisker of extending the lead at the near-post, before he was later fouled inside the Whitworth penalty area, but no penalty was given despite a strong claim.
The final few minutes saw the hosts reduced to nine men, when Connor Jameson and Ashley Hunt received second yellow cards within minutes of each other.
Honour kept out a strike from Steele in the closing minutes, as the game petered out for a narrow Rugby win.
Saturday’s win was their 22nd of the campaign, but they will have to dig in deep to add a 23rd against Pinchbeck – who have lost just once in their last 13 matches.
Sitting in fifth place, this weekend’s visitors to Butlin Road were promoted last season after a UCL Division One title win, with the reverse fixture being a 3-0 victory for Town.
Rugby will have to battle on for the title without forward Fazel Koriya however, who leaves the country with work commitments, having returned to the club for a third spell in November.
It may therefore, mean a replacement striker is added to the squad before the season end in order to maintain pressure on the league leaders Daventry.
The Northamptonshire club dispatched of third-placed Deeping Rangers last weekend and show no signs of slowing.
They take on ninth-placed Desborough on Saturday, whilst Deeping host Newport Pagnell – who are eighth.