Valley eyeing an FA Cup upset

Rugby Town go in search of a place in the FA Cup third qualifying round for the first time in seven years when they travel to Basford United on Saturday, writes Jon Venner

Rugby Town manager Carl Adams. Picture by Martin Pulley
Rugby Town manager Carl Adams. Picture by Martin Pulley

Following victories over same level Westfields and Studley in the opening two stages of the competition, Town then stepped up a level when deservedly seeing off NPL Division One outfit Grantham after a replay just over a week ago.

Valley now face an even tougher challenge against their Southern League Premier Central hosts this weekend in the second qualifying round following the brief hiatus that marked the passing of Queen Elizabeth II which saw last Saturday's scheduled league fixture at Wellingborough Town postponed.

Town's nine-match unbeaten start to the new season came to an end on Tuesday evening though, when they were dumped out of the UCL League Cup in a 3-1 defeat to an impressive Leicester Nirvana outfit at Butlin Road.

The visitors' front-line were a handful all night, with Tamar Clayton-Naute giving them the lead shortly before the interval.

Rugby emerged for the new period in a slightly more purposeful manner, and Hayden Seymour volleyed home an equaliser on 57 minutes after Edwin Ahenkorah had initially been denied, before Nirvana responded almost immediately when Daniel Odunayia restored his side's advantage.

The impressive Kyle Tott then gave the score a more realistic feel to it with Leicester's third against a much-changed Town line-up, which saw appearances from the bench from two of the club's new youth team squad Frankie Episcopo and Ralf Callaway.

Valley boss Carl Adams missed his team's League Cup exit after taking the opportunity to check out this Saturday's opponents, who were falling to a defeat of their own at Tamworth.

Basford's third reverse of the 2022/23 league campaign left them in 13th in the table following their switch over from the NPL equivalent division at the end of last season.

They had received a reprieve from relegation in May after a 20th placed finish – two spots up from Town's victims in the last round Grantham.

Rugby have twice previously visited United's Greenwich Avenue ground when the two clubs both lined up against each other for two seasons within the NPL structure between 2015 and 2017.

Adams will be hoping his squad enjoy a better fortune on this third outing though, after Gary Mills and Gary Moran led outfits suffered 3-0 and 4-0 losses respectively in these match-ups.