RUGBY Town’s remarkable turnaround campaign continues this weekend with a trip to the Potteries where they will face Kidsgrove Athletic in the Evostik NPL South Division, writes Jon Venner.
Last Saturday’s tight 2-1 victory at home to Carlton extended Valley’s unbeaten run to eight games, and whilst Dale Belford’s side were far from their best, the win was enough to lift them two places into tenth – just four points shy of the play-off zone.
Town’s current status is a far cry from the one they faced little more than three months ago, when a home defeat to Chasetown left them one place off the bottom – and with it the unthinkable prospect of a drop down a further level in the non-league pyramid.
However since then, they have gone on to pick up 27 of the next available 36 points – suffering just one further reverse in those twelve games, when Stocksbridge grabbed a win at Butlin Road with a late goal at the start of December.
Within that period, Belford has tightened up his defence with the signings of goalkeeper Sam Andrew and defenders Chris Tullin and Matt Curley. Andrew has now conceded just nine goals in his ten appearances for the club in what had previously been a problem position for Belford, with the defence was further strengthened by Tom Ryan’s return from injury.
The addition of Kurtis Revan on a dual registration basis from National League Corby has provided Belford with extra threat on the flanks, with the one-time Derby County prospect yet to taste defeat in his two months at the Valley, whilst David Kolodynski is back on form again in front of goal, with Rugby’s first on Saturday marking his tenth strike in the last eight outings.
Saturday’s trip to Kidsgrove is the first of nine away games that Town will face before the end of the season, with just six more left at Butlin Road – three of those coming in quick succession from a week Saturday (27th) when Rugby play host to league leaders Stafford, followed by a rearranged home game against Coalville (March 1st) and then the visit of Goole (March 5th).
Then it is back on the road for Rugby for an extended tour of four away fixtures, with games at Spalding, Gresley, Shaw Lane Aquaforce and Romulus, before they finally return to Butlin Road for the Easter Monday local derby clash with Daventry.
Belford should have a full squad to select from this weekend for the return match against Athletic, with the two sides playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw in the reverse one at Butlin Road back in October – with Kolodynski (2) and Kevin Thornton on target that night for Town.