RUGBY Town look to kick on in the second half of the campaign after ending 2019 in third place in the United Counties League Premier Division table.
A Boxing Day victory earned them bragging rights over local rivals Lutterworth Town and kept them hot on the tails of leaders Quorn, who sit three points ahead, and second-placed Shepshed Dynamo – who are a point in front having played five games less.
It puts Valley in a promising position for a successful 2020, which officially gets underway at Waterworks Field, home of Desborough Town, on Saturday (3pm).
In the Boxing Day win, Ryan Seal’s last-minute winner earned Town all three points after Danico Johnson’s first-half opener was cancelled out by Marshall Keenan’s penalty moments after the restart.
The levelling goal proved the first goal conceded in seven hours and 15 minutes at Butlin Road, such have been the impressive performances of Rugby defensively.
As a result of restructuring of the league in 2019/20, the runners up this season will also be eligible for promotion to step four of the non-league ladders, as explained by Rugby Town club secretary Doug Wilkins:
“The league clearly communicated the various promotion and relegation scenarios to us at the start of the season so that we could understand the end game,” he said.
“There are 24 automatic promotion places available from step five of the pyramid, with nine of these going to the top three in each of three leagues in the north of the country.
“The remaining 15 automatic places will go to the 11 champions of the remaining step five leagues – which include the United Counties League – plus the four best runner-up finishers in those leagues, decided upon by a points per game ratio.
As for the other runners-up, a relegation play-off away to sides facing the drop at step four will offer an alternate route to a higher tier for the 2020/21 season.
Town will hope that the second option does not come to fruition, and will be confident of continuing their upwards momentum against an opponent who they put 12 past in November’s crushing victory on home soil.
In that encounter, both Dylan Parker and Johnson registered four goals each, en route to a club record victory.