SPIRITS are high at Butlin Road, after Rugby Town made an unbeaten start to their United Counties League Premier Division campaign.
Tuesday night’s 5-1 thumping of hosts Anstey Nomads, following Saturday’s goalless draw with Cogenhoe United, means that Valley sit second in the table behind Loughborough University – the only side to win both of their opening games.
Carl Adams handed starts to six debutants in the mid-week trip to Leicestershire, in a shake-up to the team that earned an opening-day point, with Kieran Fitzgerald and Ryan Seal taking full advantage of their chance.
The duo were both on target, alongside teammates Charlie Evans – who hit a brace – and one from Loyiso Recci, with all goals remarkably coming after the break.
Rugby were unfortunate not to be in front after an effort from Justin Marsden looped onto the bar, while further chances proved fruitless.
Dan Kavanagh crashed a long-range header onto the woodwork in the second half, before Fitzgerald finally broke the deadlock when drifting inside and slipping the ball inside the post past Nomads keeper Joseph Smith.
Evans fired his first of the game shortly after in emphatic style, lashing an overhead kick from Seal’s free-kick delivery into the net, before the hosts were reduced to ten men after a player was sin-binned.
The visitors took full advantage of the temporary dismissal by adding two more to the scoreline, with Seal scoring his first for the club in style, lofting the ball into the back of an empty net from 35 yards after the Anstey goalkeeper elected to deal with a long ball upfield.
Evans had luck on his side with his second of the game, after his strike from outside the penalty area took a deflection and gave the goalkeeper no chance as the ball rolled into the net.
Anstey provided the only blemish of the game for Rugby after Finley Jones wiped out the visitors’ clean sheet, though Recci sealed the win with a volleyed effort from a set-piece in the dying minutes.
In Saturday’s opener, Valley were unable to break down a resolute Cogenhoe side, with Recci’s long-range effort that narrowly cleared the bar the closest that the hosts came to breaking the deadlock, in an otherwise uneventful game.
Adams’ side now turn their attentions to Saturday’s (3pm) FA Cup extra preliminary round, when Sporting Khalsa of the Midlands Football League Premier Division form the first opponents in this year’s competition.
Khalsa are on form after winning their opening two league games, beating Stourport Swifts 2-1 in mid-week to follow up a 1-0 win over Boldmere St Michaels last Saturday, so Town will be wary of a tough test at the Aspray Arena.