VALLEY'S VASE VENTURE STILL INTACT
Rugby Town's latest FA Vase victory at the weekend has earnt them a home fixture against fellow UCL Premier South outfit Hinckley LR in the Second Round Proper of the competition on November 20th, writes Jon Venner.
Sunday's 2-1 win at lower level Belper United was their third Vase success of the season, and came on the back of three maximum returns in the league too prior to that.
Valley boss Carl Adams was pleased to have navigated his way through such a potentially tricky tie. He noted: "We saw last season at this stage against Dudley Sports that these type of games can be real banana skin affairs, but I thought we acquitted ourselves well against a side that have made a decent start to their own campaign."
Belper have only lost twice in the UCL Division One so far, and they made Town work hard for the victory in a feisty encounter played out on a slippery Christchurch Meadow surface.
Danico Johnson gave Rugby a 12th minute lead when he applied a cool finish to Edwin Ahenkorah's through ball, but the hosts were back level again after Richard Hanslow prodded one past Jake Woodward.
United did strike the bar shortly afterwards, but Town were back ahead thanks to leading scorer David Kolodynski's clever header to a Justin Marsden corner, and they could have easily extended the final advantage further in the closing stages, with the home defence opening up as Belper searched for another equaliser.
Adams concluded: "It was a tough physical battle out there today, but I thought we looked up for it and we also created the better chances overall.
"Of course Hinckley will be a real test in the next round of the competition, but I thought we gave a good impression of ourselves at their place in the league earlier in the season, and hopefully with home advantage and the confidence our current good run is generating, we can keep the cup run going."
Valley's upcoming second round opponents maintained their immaculate 13 match start to their UCL campaign on Tuesday evening, with a 2-0 win over fellow challengers Lutterworth.
Meanwhile Town travel to rock bottom Biggleswade United this Saturday, with their hosts still to register a point in the league following their switch over into the UCL structure in the summer.
The Bedfordshire club's fifteen straight defeats have seen them rack up a negative goal difference of 68 already, although their performances appear to have improved slightly of late - with two of their last three defeats only being by a single goal margin.
Rugby are also in action next Tuesday (2nd November) evening when they welcome longstanding foes Long Buckby for a Butlin Road local derby.
The two clubs first met 64 years ago to the month back in 1957 in the Rugby & District League Division Three, with the Bucks going on to complete the double over their neighbours in one of Valley's formative years.
The rivalry was renewed back in August after a 46 year gap, and Town are now looking for a double of their own, after a Kolodynski hat-trick and a Johnson strike saw Rugby make the short trip home from Station Road with a 4-2 victory under their belts.
# Defender Jamal Clarke has returned to the club after having left for Bedworth in the summer. Clarke had previously signed for Town in July 2019, featuring in 34 matches across the two Covid hit campaigns that followed. The 29 year old centre half came off the bench during the second half of Sunday's Belper Vase triumph.