FOOTBALL: HAVING ended a dismal run of five straight NPL South Division defeats at a rain-sodden Butlin Road on Tuesday evening, Rugby Town return there this weekend for another league fixture when Romulus are the visitors.
The midweek 1-1 draw against AFC Rushden and Diamonds saw Valley put in by far their best home performance to-date, showing good character to bounce back from the disappointment of a 5-0 drubbing at division toppers Shaw Lane last Saturday.
Chris Sterling’s first goal for the club was the first Town had scored at home in the league since the end of August, but unfortunately it did not prove enough to secure a much needed victory.
However it did cut the deficit between them and 21st placed Carlton back to three points, and can hopefully provide manager Gary Moran’s side with a confidence boost ahead of tough run of NPL fixtures which sees Rugby face three of the current top seven teams before the end of November.
First up though is a Romulus side who have struggled of late themselves too. They are without a league win in five matches, and having made a promising start to the 2016/17 term, the Roms have now slipped into the bottom half of the table.
In last season’s games between the two sides, Town followed up on a 2-0 Butlin Road loss early in the campaign with a 5-1 success in the reverse outing, with the only other competitive fixture between them coming in 2010 when Valley won a Birmingham Senior Cup tie.
Moran – who was on the touchline for both Town games over the past week despite the recent death of his father – is almost certain to be without striker David Kolodynski at the weekend, after he again pulled up injured with his hamstring in the Shaw Lane defeat.
Full-back Craig Kelly missed both recent games with a knee injury, with Aaron Stringfellow also absent from the squad against Rushden, although Aaron Moses-Garvey and Anthony Charles should both be back available again on Saturday after they too did not feature midweek.
However there was a welcome – and incredibly quick – return to action for Town defender Elliot Palmer on Tuesday evening.
Palmer was stretchered off with broken ribs in an FA Trophy game at Bedworth at the beginning of October and ended up in critical care at Coventry’s Walsgrave Hospital with internal bleeding, but he took his place alongside the Rowley brothers at the heart of the Rugby defence and put in an accomplished comeback display.
Town are at home next Tuesday (15th) evening, when they host Ilkeston in the First Round of the League Cup.
Valley came up against the Premier Division club at the same stage of the competition in 2015 losing 2-0 at Butlin Road, two months on from a 3-2 victory against them in the First Qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Rugby’s home tie against Wolverhampton in the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup has been scheduled to take place on Tuesday 6th December.