WORDS BY JON VENNER - PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
United Counties League - Premier Division South
Lutterworth Town 0 Rugby Town 1
Ten man Valley dug deep to hold onto a deserved victory in the local derby at a misty Dunley Way on Saturday.
Alex Lock had given Rugby the lead on 43 minutes, but then found himself dismissed shortly after in first half stoppage time following a melee resulting from a challenge by the Town sub in the middle of the field.
Recent signing Dan Summerfield came in for the suspended James Hancocks as the only change from the previous weekend's Vase success at Stourport, with Rugby looking to record their sixth league victory in a row.
The first real chance of the game fell to the hosts though, when Marshal Keenan volleyed one straight at Ash Bodycote.
Luke English then blazed high of the target for Valley - after Caine Elliott and Max Johnson had combined well in the build-up, before Lutterworth defender Justin Peace headed wide as the even start to the game continued.
The visitors were soon stepping up the pace though and David Kolodynski should probably have given them the lead when he ran onto Jamal Clarke's through ball only to steer his effort wide of the post.
Lock replaced the injured English on the half hour mark and with his first touch he was playing Kolodynski in again, but this time the striker lifted shot drew a fine fingertip save from Austin Wood.
Town's fine spell continued, with Danico Johnson twice dazzling defenders with his quick feet out on the right wing before sending in a pair of dangerous crosses.
Kolodynski cleverly flicked a Max Johnson corner against the crossbar and Lock fired one over it as Rugby continued to press for a goal, with Wood again doing well to keep out Caine Elliott's strike after Kolodynski had set him up.
The breakthrough finally came from another Johnson corner, with Lock towering up to power his downward header across the line.
Edwin Ahenkorah could have extended the lead further with a great opportunity, before the tensions that had been evident on previous meetings between the two sides resurfaced again following Lock's foul and after a prolonged period of disorder, the midfielder became the first Valley player to receive a red card this season.
It was always going to be a tough ask to hold on for a full 45 minutes against a side that had won nine out of their ten 2021 home league fixtures, and the Swifts predictably were on the front foot in the early exchanges of the new period.
Bodycote was down well to turn Callum Riley's low strike round the post, Tendai Daire headed over and Bodycote went full length to beat away Louis Samuels's well-struck effort, as Town started to adapt to their numerical disadvantage.
However, as the half continued, Rugby look more assured and began to find space in behind the hosts - creating chances of their own in the process.
An Ahenkorah shot was blocked by Wood and Kolodynski's strike from a wide angle nearly crept in at the far post, with Max Johnson also having an attempt from distance blocked by a Lutterworth body.
Kolodynski then had a glorious opportunity to put the game to bed, but he could only stroke Danico Johnson's cross wideafter Johnson had totally bamboozled the hapless Mark Warren once more on the byline.
There was still time for a final decent stop from Bodycote to deny Samuels again, and with the game already deep in stoppage time, Lutterworth were also reduced to ten men for its remainder when keeper Wood was sinbinned for dissent.
Rugby line-up: Bodycote, English (Lock), Summerfield, Clarke, L.Recci, Fitzharris, Ahenkorah, Elliott, Kolodynski (Shaw), D.Johnson, M.Johnson. Sub not used: Marsden, Semahimbo
Lutterworth line-up: Wood, Riley, Sumonu, Warren, Peace, Cooper, Samuels, Lefley, Keenan, Adams, Daire. Subs used: Maisiri, Hodkinson, Marrs
Rugby Star Man: Jamal Clarke