PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Rugby Town head the early United Counties League Premier South table following Tuesday evening's narrow home victory over Oadby.
Valley skipper Loyiso Recci's penalty settled the game with just ten minutes remaining to slightly soften the blow of yet another early exit from the FA Cup at the weekend, when Town were seen off 4-2 by Midland Football League Stone Old Alleynians in the Preliminary Round of the competition.
Dylan Parker had given his side a sixth minute lead in Staffordshire with a low angled strike to David Kolodynski's assist, but the hosts then blitzed Rugby with goals from Jack Tomlinson, Lucas Baker and Sam Wilson in little more than ten minutes in the lead-up to the interval.
Town rallied after the break though, with Parker grabbing his second of the game with a header on the hour mark to set-up a potentially exciting finale, but Stone's Sam Bowater struck the killer blow on 80 minutes to end Valley's unbeaten start to the new campaign.
The midweek league fixture saw Rugby kick-on in the second half after an relatively even opening period to ultimately snatch all three points with a single goal victory.
Max Johnson had almost given Valley the lead when he clipped the ball goalwards only to be denied by a last ditch clearance on the line, but when fellow sub Danico Johnson had been fouled in the box by Ben Sault, Recci took full advantage from the spot.
Rugby's latest league success made it three wins and a draw from their opening four matches, and lifted them a point clear at the top ahead of six clubs on nine points - three of which (Newport Pagnell, Eynesbury and Harborough) all still enjoy a 100% UCL record.
The fixtures continue to come thick and fast for Carl Adams's squad this week, with first Rothwell visiting Butlin Road this Saturday, before Town make the short trip on Monday afternoon to one of the division's fancied contenders Coventry United - whose perfect start to the season was ended at Harborough on Tuesday.
Adams's biggest concern going into the holiday weekend doubleheader revolves around the fitness of striker Johnson.
The 26 year old had looked in fine form ahead of last Saturday's cup exit, but was hampered by a hamstring strain throughout the Stone defeat and then not risked in the starting line-up against Oadby.
Keenah Rosser sat out the Oadby victory through injury, although there were midweek starts for both Omar Recci and Kurtis Revan, as well as an appearance off the bench from Charlie Evans, with all three players now back in contention after recovering from various niggles.