FOOTBALL: VALLEY were held to a goalless draw following an entertaining clash against rivals Coventry Sphinx, writes Jon Venner.
Rugby acquitted themselves well against one of the league’s in-form teams though – especially in a strong opening half an hour, with the visitors then finding their feet more in the second half.
However neither side could find a way to break the deadlock, with a makeshift Town defence registering their first clean sheet of the season to-date in the process.
There were three changes to the home side’s line-up from the weekend, with Kyle Rowley, Jamie Hall and Josh Thornton all back in from the start against a Coventry eleven including ex-Valley favourites Aaron Stringfellow and Jamie Towers.
Town were unlucky not to be ahead after just a couple of minutes when David Kolodynski finished off Ruben Wiggins-Thomas’s cross from the right, but the goal fell foul to a marginal offside decision.
A further goalbound Kolodynski effort was deflected away for a corner by the head of Michael Quirke, as the hosts’ lively start continued, with a number of other shots blocked by a busy Sphinx defence in this spell.
The hosts continued to probe and Thornton lifted one over from a Josh Ruff pass, Wiggins-Thomas shot straight at keeper Scott Dutton and Kolodynski headed Jamie Hall’s corner wide of the post.
The visitors had offered little in the opening exchanges, with their best chance of the half coming when Louis Guest’s header was cleared off the Rugby line late in the first half.
Rowley’s suspected broken leg also came in the closing minutes of the period, when he was caught by the boot of Simeon Townsend as he was helping to see the ball back to safety.
Wiggins-Thomas was in behind the Sphinx defence shortly after the restart, but his final effort from a tight angle struck the legs of keeper Scott Dutton, before the away team had their best spell of the game with Ryan Harkin dinking his shot over and Alex Tomkinson nearly finishing off a probing Towers’ cross.
Lewis Gwilliams turned a low long-range effort by Pierre Moudime round the post for a corner and Nathan McGarrity also fired over the bar, but Town were still threatening at the other end, with Kolodynski only just beaten to a dangerous centre from Hall and a Chadd Birch cross agonisingly missing its target too.
The final significant chance of the game saw Harkin’s strike from the edge deflected just wide of the frame.
Valley Line-up: Gwilliams; K Rowley (Shakespeare), Ashby, M Rowley (C Birch), Castleton; Dance, Ashby, Ruff, Thornton; Wiggins-Thomas, Kolodynski (Brathwaite). Subs not used: O’Neil, R Birch. Booked: Castleton, Dance.
Sphinx line-up: Dutton, Moudime, Stringfellow, Dakouri, Quirke, Guest, Towers, Tomkinson, Townsend, Harkin, McGarrity. Subs: Brown, Hill, Burt, Lower, Downes.