12th Aug, 2020

Town look for response after FA Cup heartbreak

Ben Tyler 14th Aug, 2019

RUGBY Town were the losing side in a nine-goal FA Cup extra preliminary round thriller at the Aspray Arena, going down 5-4 to Sporting Khalsa.

A last-gasp winner by Josh McKenzie was enough to win a rollercoaster tie in which Rugby trailed 2-0, before going on to lead 4-2, only to concede three without reply to crash out in their first appearance in this season’s competition.

Goals from McKenzie and Dan Westwood put the hosts two goals in front by the mid-way point of the half after a slow start by Valley, but a goal just before the half-hour mark dragged them back into contention.

A pinpoint pass through the Khalsa defence by Kieran Fitzgerald was latched onto by Charlie Evans, who made no mistake in slipping the ball inside the post after rounding goalkeeper Sam Arnold.

Three minutes later and the scores were level, as Loyiso Recci rose highest to power a header towards goal, tipped away by Arnold, but only to Rico Alexander who nodded the rebound into the net.

Fitzgerald completed the comeback just before half time when lobbing the ball home from 30 yards, after Arnold had charged out of his area to stop a shot.

Rugby continued to build pressure after the restart and added a fourth on 58 minutes when Fitzgerald finished off a well-worked exchange between Ryan Seal and Justin Marsden.

But ten minutes later, the game was back on after Khalsa struck through Sean Williams, who then fired an equaliser with 16 minutes to play with a close-range effort, to stun the visitors.

Then, with momentum on their side, Khalsa secured their place in the next round of the cup when McKenzie found the net from James McGrady’s shot, after Eli Bako surrendered possession cheaply.

Rugby Town return to action on Saturday (3pm) against Leicester Nirvana in the United Counties League Premier Division, before meeting Lutterworth Town in the preliminary round of the Kitman UK League Knockout Cup on Tuesday (7.45pm).

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