REPORT BY JON VENNER PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town welcome AFC Wulfrunians to Butlin Road this Saturday in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Vase on the back of a victory and a defeat in their UCL campaign over the past week.
Valley boss Carl Adams had moved to bolster his squad ahead of last weekend's home league fixture against Potton after a disappointing draw with Cogenhoe a few days earlier, and his three new recruits - Lamar Parkes, Luke English and Ash Bodycote - all made a positive impact in the 3-0 victory.
Parkes arrived from fellow UCL Premier South outfit Oadby after impressing Adams in Town's win over them earlier in the season, and the attacker made a particularly lively start at his new club - including opening the scoring with a deflected strike after 26 minutes.
Full-back English, who signed from Worcester City, then set up Rugby's second with an impressive long throw which was headed home by Liam Francis just before the interval, with Francis on-target again midway through the second half to round off the win after a defensive catastrophe from the visitors.
The third new signing saw a return to Butlin Road and a clean sheet for 22 year old Bodycote, who has also featured against Valley already this season for his previous team Long Buckby. The young keeper had made his original Town debut six years previously, when he stepped in between the sticks at the last minute for an FA Cup tie against Coventry Sphinx.
Following on from the Potton success, Rugby then travelled to one of the division's early frontrunners Hinckley LRFC on Tuesday evening.
Town made an assured start at the hosts' impressive Leicester Road stadium, but Jordan Burrows's close range finish on eleven minutes knocked the visitors, with Hinckley skipper Danny Jenno stretching the hosts' lead with the last kick of the first half.
The home side all but secured their victory when Bodycote could not keep out a powerfully struck effort from Liam Read not long after the restart.
Despite the three goal deficit, Rugby went on to acquit themselves well against a side who still enjoy a 100% league record from seven games and they did manage to grab a goal back when David Kolodynski registered his tenth of the season after good work on the left by Danico Johnson.
Kolodynski also struck with the crossbar and saw a further acrobatic overhead effort tipped over the bar by Will Highland, but they were unable to peg back their clinical hosts - who moved up into second in the table in the process.
Town slipped a further place to ninth following the defeat, and after this weekend's Vase fixture, they then face an equally testing away game at current leaders Harborough next Tuesday (28th September).
Harborough hold a six point lead at the top, after kicking off the 2021/22 season with nine wins from their ten UCL matches to-date - with their only defeat coming last Saturday against Hinckley.
Town's new trio are available for Saturday's Vase match-up with the Midland League Premier outfit having all not previously featured in the competition.