RUGBY TOWN PICTURES: Valley beat Sleaford in last game before enforced break
United Counties League - Premier Division
Valley’s Charlie Evans struck in the 70th minute to secure a hard fought victory against their lowly hosts, writes Jon Venner.
Both sides struggled to deal with the high gusts at Eslaforde Park last Saturday, with Rugby also recovering from the shock of falling behind within the opening five minutes on their way to the three points.
Town boss Carl Adams made one change from the previous weekend’s home success over Boston, with Kurtis Revan handed a starting spot after a string of impactful performances from the bench.
The visitors almost got off to a flier when Danico Johnson easily got in behind the Sleaford defence, but his shot was blocked out after he had cut in from a tight angle.
Instead it was the home side that took the early lead, when Dom Kew and Nick Bates combined well to set-up Liam Tunstall for a neat finish past the onrushing Matt Hill.
Valley got themselves back on level terms from the penalty spot on eleven minutes, when Ryan Seal stroked home after Revan had been brought down in the box.
The hosts looked to take advantage of the wind at their backs, but had only limited success with this strategy, whilst Town’s best chance of the remainder of the first half saw Seal’s first time effort tipped onto the bar by ample-framed keeper Garry Doran.
Rugby started the new period with renewed intent, and Johnson was soon taking advantage of a poor kick-out by Doran - only to see his resulting shot smothered out, with Revan then unable to capitalise on the loose ball.
Evans struck the base of the post with his shot from just outside of the penalty area after he done well to escape from his marker, and Jamal Clarke should have done better with a header to a Seal corner.
Johnson fired a shot just wide from distance, before Evans grabbed the vital goal when he stretched at the far post to convert sub Lee Thomas’s excellent cross.
Town’s second half superiority continued, and Revan squandered a decent opportunity when he shot over when through on goal, with Evans another to fluff his lines after he had broke clear.
Evans had a further looping effort cleared from the goal line, with Revan missing out again in the closing minutes when he hit the bar and then scuffed the rebound after Rugby had outnumbered the opposition defence on the break.
Rugby line-up: Hill, Rosser, Evans, Francis, L.Recci, Clarke, Seal, Hancocks, Parker (L.Thomas), Johnson, Revan.
Sub not used: C.Thomas, Elliott, O.Recci
Sleaford line-up: Doran, Brown, Jackson, Moor, Ward, Newman, Armstrong, Bates, Tunstall, Kew, Wiles.
Subs: Rowland, Hollingworth, Pickthall, Shaw
Rugby Star Man: Charlie Evans