FOOTBALL: RUGBY Town make the 200-mile round trip to Cheshire this weekend for undoubtedly the most important game of their so far torrid season.
Valley go into Saturday’s match-up with fellow strugglers Northwich still enjoying just a three point advantage over bottom placed Vics, after Town’s run of poor results continued at Butlin Road last weekend with a 2-1 defeat to Spalding.
Rugby manager Gary Moran was disappointed his side could not emerge with some reward from what he considered to be a decent display from them against a side challenging at the top end of the table.
He explained: “I thought our efforts deserved more, but after taking the lead and with the extra man too, it was very frustrating to be outdone by two set-plays.
“We have to remember they are second in the league, but I think we made them look ordinary for large parts of the game. I admit that we do lack a cutting edge at times, but I draw a lot of positives from the way we played and if we can continue to put in performances like that in our final fourteen games then I’m confident that we can get ourselves safe.”
Town’s latest defeat meant it was just one victory in 12 games for Moran’s men in all competitions in December and January, and they will desperate to end the two month span with a much needed victory at Northwich.
Their opponents are themselves without a league win in ten attempts and were recently docked ten points for entering administration.
Moran continued: “We have to try and take advantage of their situation. It’s the classic ‘must-win’ fixture for both teams, and one that we certainly can’t be losing if we are going to get ourselves out of the situation we find ourselves in.”
When the two sides met at Butlin Road back at the beginning of October, the visitors ran out reasonably comfortable victors.
However the make-up of both sides is likely to be somewhat different for the reverse encounter, with just four of that successful Northwich line-up starting their last game at Kidsgrove and only David Kolodynski remaining in Town’s opening eleven from then to the Spalding loss.
Kolodynski may be joined by another who started that October 2-0 home defeat, with Moran hopeful midfielder Aaron Moses-Garvey will have recovered from the ankle injury that has kept him out of Valley’s last two matches.
Moran will also have Anthony Charles back in contention, after he served the final game of his three match ban last weekend, although fellow defender Callum Burgess and midfielder Mitchell Thomson will miss out through suspension. Ryan Quinn is another doubt after injuring his knee on Saturday.
Another new face made his Valley debut against Spalding, with one-time Walsall FC academy prospect Tevin Shakespeare participating from the bench for final half an hour.
With 63 players now having featured in a Town shirt this season (on the back of the 2015/16 total of 56), Moran is hoping for some much needed continuity at club for the remainder of the campaign.
He concluded: “Unless something special comes to our attention, we are keen to have as settled a squad as possible for the run-in. If we can play every week like we did last weekend, we won’t need to bring in anyone else anyway.”