RUGBY Town return to FA Cup action on Saturday when they welcome Northern Premier League South Division outfit Chasetown to Butlin Road for a first qualifying round tie, bidding to bounce back from Tuesday’s 1-0 league defeat to Daventry Town, writes Jon Venner.
Valley sit 11th in Southern League Division One Central with ten points from eight games after the midweek home defeat, which followed a 6-1 victory at Hanwell Town on Saturday.
A 60th minute Tom Berwick penalty settled a typical local derby on Tuesday evening, ending Valley’s run of four consecutive wins at Butlin Road against their neighbours.
The decisive moment in a hard fought and evenly contested game came when Marcel Simpson was harshly adjudged to have taken Berwick out by the byline and Berwick picked himself up to stroke the penalty past new Valley keeper Nick Bennion.
The upcoming FA Cup tie should prove an interesting affair against a Chasetown side who boast an impressive recent record in the competition, having reaching the first round proper in 2005/06 and then the third round proper two years later – the lowest ranked side to ever reach such an advanced stage.
Valley have been less successful over recent years, although last season they were unlucky not to progress into the final qualifying round after losing out in after a replay against Conference North’s Worcester City.
Saturday’s opponents have started their league campaign well – with just a single defeat from their six matches to date – and as a result they sit seventh in their table.
Their Achilles heel appears to be goalscoring though – with just seven league goals to their name – a problem that Town had themselves suffered from until the weekend’s six-goal haul at Hanwell, which all but doubled their own league tally.
Unfortunately Dave Stringer’s side could not follow this up with another win in their midweek home game against Daventry, where the defeat saw them slip back down again to 11th in a league still headed by Kettering.
Rugby and Chasetown met in the FA Trophy just over a year ago, with the Scholars overturning an early Alex Gudger strike to progress through to the next round, although in the two clubs’ previous meetings in the FA Cup in 1991 and 1997, it has been Valley that have ultimately come out on top.
Stringer should have both Richard Blythe and Jamie Towers available again from suspension and work commitments respectively and he also bolstered his squad last week with the signings of goalkeeper Bennion and Ben George.
Bennion joined from Kettering, having spent two seasons prior to that at St.Ives, and George – who made one first team appearance at Walsall – coincidentally arrives from Saturday’s visitors Chasetown.
Bennion and George made their first appearances in a Town shirt from the bench at Hanwell, before both starting against Daventry on Tuesday.
If Saturday’s tie is drawn, there would be a replay at the Scholars Ground on Tuesday.