United Counties League - Premier Division South
Cogenhoe United 0 Rugby Town 1
Town dug deep to secure all three points at Compton Park thanks to a second half strike by substitute Max Johnson.
Johnson's fifth goal of the season ended United's stubborn resistance on a bobbly playing surface on an afternoon where the visitors' goal was rarely under threat.
Rugby's starting line-up was unchanged from their previous outing in the Vase against Lakenheath, although cup-tied duo Adam Shaw and Madundo Semahimbo both returned to the bench.
After a quiet start, the first opportunity of the game fell to Justin Marsden, but his attempted lob was easily gathered by Cogenhoe keeper Craig Foxall.
Dylan Wilson did put one well wide for the hosts after a Loyiso Recci slip-up, but Valley were enjoying the majority of the play, with David Kolodynski missing out on a succession of chances - including hitting the side netting with a strike from a tight angle and also heading one straight at Foxall after Edwin Ahenkorah's delivery had found him in an unmarked position.
Ahenkorah then shot over and Danico Johnson's snap shot from the edge of the area also found the keeper's arms, before Town's best chance of the half came on 38 minutes when Kolodynski headed Caine Elliott's chipped cross onto the bar.
Barry Fitzharris's effort from distance cleared the frame and Rugby were unable to force the ball home from a couple of goalmouth scrambles, as the visitors' quest for a first half deadlock breaker ultimately ended unsuccessfully.
Max Johnson was soon in the game after his introduction from the restart though, delivering his free-kick onto the head of Recci - but the unmarked Town skipper guided the ball wide.
Another Recci header to a Johnson set-piece lacked power, before Johnson grabbed his goal on 56 minutes with a powerfully toe-poked strike to Dan Summerfield's pass.
Recci's third headed chance of the new half went begging too, and then Danico Johnson was crowded out in the box after Kolodynski had exchanged passes in the penalty area.
Cogenhoe had struggled to make much impression in their attacking manoeuvres, although Tom Wakely did find himself some space down the right hand channel before screwing his shot wide from twenty yards.
The introduction of Adam Shaw from the bench gave Valley their second major substitute generated impetus of the game, and the winger was soon showing his marker a clean pair of heels down the right to set-up Johnson for a great opportunity for his second, but the midfielder could only blaze the ball over the bar.
Johnson almost redeemed himself for that miss shortly after, but this time his jinking run into the box ended with a well-struck shot and an equally decent save from Foxall.
Wakely's late sinbinning for dissent after a halfway line fracas between a number of players from both sides meant the hosts ended the game a man light.
Rugby line-up: Bodycote, Summerfield, Ahenkorah, Clarke, L.Recci, Rosser, Marsden (M.Johnson), Fitzharris, Kolodynski (Shaw), D.Johnson, Elliott (Hancocks). Sub not used: Semahimbo, Francis
Cogenhoe line-up: Foxall, Cichosz, Adams, Mortimer, Riley, Alexander, Archer, Norman, Wilson, Wakley, Elmore. Subs: Bates, Vaughan, Boateng, Culley
Rugby Star Man: Max Johnson