Promotion hopes fade as Rugby Town visit Newport Pagnell

By Jon Venner

Caine Elliott scored both Rugby's goals against Desborough  (Picture by Martin Pulley)
Caine Elliott scored both Rugby's goals against Desborough (Picture by Martin Pulley)

Rugby Town missed out on the opportunity to make up some ground near the top of their division last Saturday, when a stoppage time equaliser denied them the victory at Desborough, writes Jon Venner.

While 2nd placed Harborough were suffering a rare defeat at Wellingborough, it had looked like Caine Elliott’s double would be enough to secure a makeshift Valley all three points at Waterworks Field, until home sub Thomas Gudyer popped up to make the scores 2-2 in the 94th minute.

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The first half of the game had been a scrappy affair on a poor playing surface, with Elliott’s composed finish to Danico Johnson’s pull across the box a rare moment of quality.

The hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser though just past the hour mark, when Thomas Mills headed home at the near post, but Elliott was soon restoring the lead with another cool strike to a Johnson assist.

Rugby then failed to take advantage of a temporary spell of numerical superiority after Desborough keeper Chris Jones was sinbinned for dissent, with Gudyer making them pay at the death when he headed home after Town keeper Ash Bodycote parried an initial strike into his path.

Town’s failure to capitalise on Harborough’s slip-up 13 miles further down in Northamptonshire all but ends their feint hopes of ending up in the UCL Premier South Division’s promotion places, although the two sides are set to meet next Tuesday evening at Butlin Road in their rearranged fixture.

Rugby kick off their final run of ten league fixtures this Saturday with an equally tough encounter, when they travel to third place Newport Pagnell.

The weekend hosts eased two points ahead of Valley following their 3-1 win against Potton last Saturday.

Valley boss Carl Adams - who returns to the touchline after having completed his two match stadium ban - will be hoping that Pagnell are more focused on their upcoming FA Vase quarter final tie at Whitchurch, after the Buckinghamshire club went one step further than Town with victory over Buckland in the Fifth Round three weeks ago.