RUGBY Town recorded victory against Leicester Nirvana on Tuesday night, which provided some scant consolation to a double promotion blow, after losing leading scorer Danico Johnson to Redditch United, and suffering a shock 2-0 loss to Northampton ON Chenecks at the weekend.
The weekend’s loss saw them fall ten points behind the leaders Daventry, but got back to winning ways in mid-week to at least put a turbulent blip in the season behind them with a positive result to move forward.
Johnson’s departure from the club to play in the Southern Premier League would come as a major blow to any club at this level, but manager Carl Adams had no hesitation when bringing in an immediate replacement, Rushall Olympic striker Edwin Ahenkorah.
Ahenkorah has previous experience under Adams’ management, having scored 36 goals in 113 games in three seasons at Stratford, with the two now re-united at Valley and the Rugby manager giving an immediate starting berth in the side to his new forward.
Whether Ahenkorah will prove to be the ideal replacement for Johnson, scorer of 20 goals in 26 starts – only time will tell.
Lewis Hayden was a second departure this week, moving on to Racing Club Warwick in the MFL Division One, making 18 appearances in all for Valley.
Rugby needed Liam Francis’ header to seal a much-needed win against Nirvana late on, after Lewis Rankin sent Valley in at half-time a goal up, despite dominating the proceedings on Tuesday night.
Ahenkorah and Charlie Evans were shaping up to be a real threat as a forward line, Evans and Rankin both having opportunities to put away early in the game, whilst Francis’ header drifting wide and Ahenkorah being denied from close-range by Leicester stopper Michael Antkowiak.
Rankin’s left-footer into the top-corner provided the clinical touch Rugby were looking for to open the scoring, which Evans failed to add to despite going for goal from a good position in the centre of the box, and when heading over from close-range from a Keenah Rosser cross.
Francis again provided a threat from set-pieces, getting within inches of converting Rankin’s delivery.
A failure to extend the scoreline proved costly, Nelson Jordan broke away on the counter and slipped a low shot past Matt Hill to level in the 69th minute.
It was up to centre-back Francis to curl a header goalwards from Josh Steele’s cross from deep to make the telling difference to edge the game in Town’s favour.
A second home fixture of the week at Butlin Road sees Peterborough Northern Star come to town on Saturday (3pm), with the hope that a victory reminiscent of the reverse fixture, which saw a 4-0 win at the Peterborough’s Branch Bros Stadium in August, could be on the cards.
Northern Star currently sit 12th, whilst casting eyes over to leaders Daventry – they face Wellingborough Town, who managed a draw in their previous encounter.