RUBGY Town’s play-off challenge will go right down to the wire after a disappointing performance saw them lose 1-0 away at AFC Hayes in the Southern League Central league.
Rugby’s cause was not helped with a sickness bug appearing to decimate the side with both Justin Marsden and Richard Gregory going off at half-time.
The home side started the more brighter when centre back Christian Barrett rose highest from a corner but saw his header go wide.
And this was followed by another goal-bound header from Jordan Berry from Oladimeji Olajubu’s pinpoint cross.
Rugby had their first effort on goal in the 28th minute through Sam Youngs, who found himself in space but his shot lacked accuracy and power and was comfortable enough for Sam Mazurek.
Hayes took the lead four minutes before the break. The ball was bobbing around in the penalty area before it was cut back to Jake Cass who struck a long range shot from about 25 yards which whistled into the corner of the net leaving Neil Collett helpless.
There was time for Marsden to nearly equalise just a minute later but his snap shot from close range was saved.
The visitors had a lot more possession in the second half but could not find the killer instinct to punish the robust Hayes defence.
Substitute Seb Lake-Gaskin saw his header go agonisingly over the bar from Will Grocutt’s corner in the 47th minute. Robbie Burns tried his luck from distance from a free kick without troubling Mazarek and after some good individual play from Lake-Gaskin the resulting shot was a disappointment.
Home keeper Mazurek was in inspired form when he saved with his feet from a Lewis Rankin effort.
Rugby thought they might have been awarded a penalty in the 80th minute when Rankin was brought down in the area. Despite appeals from both fans and players, the referee waved play on and Hayes held on for a rare win.
Seb Lake-Gaskin gets a cross in. (s) Photo by Martin Pulley
Will Grocott makes a clearance during the AFC Hayes. (s) Photo by Martin Pulley