FOR the second time in just three away league fixtures Rugby Town threw away a two-goal lead but this time they returned from Sheffield FC empty handed after losing Saturday’s NPL South Division fixture 4-2.
Valley returned empty handed from their trip to the world’s oldest football club after a poor second half performance saw them let a two goal advantage slip at the Coach & Horses Stadium.
David Kolodynski’s fifth strike of the season and a Sheffield own goal had given them the lead within a half an hour, but they conceded one just ahead of the interval and then unravelled after it to give the hosts their first points of the campaign.
With both Darryl Thomas and Andy Hall both injured following the FA Cup home victory against Corby the previous weekend, defenders Jason Lee and Edi Appleton returned to the starting line-up in their place.
Whilst Town’s Luke Smithson went close in the opening minutes with a high shot that home keeper Chris Butt parried away, it was generally Sheffield that made the better start with Connor Hall denied by an excellent save from Louis Connor, and Alec Denton and Ben Partridge both putting decent chances wide.
However it was the visitors that broke the deadlock on 24 minutes when Kolodynski initially flicked the ball onto Smithson, before being perfectly placed to add a proficient finish to his subsequent cut-back.
The goal prompted Rugby’s best spell of the game, and they were soon two ahead when Gooding released Smithson, whose shot was saved by Sheffield keeper Chris Butt only for the ball to deflect into the net off the covering defender Lee Cooksey.
Butt tipped Kolodynski’s close range effort round the post after Richard Lavery had headed the ball back across the face, with Sam Belcher also guilty of missing a gilt-edged opportunity by somehow scooping one over in front of goal.
That miss ultimately proved to be the game’s turning point, with Denton reducing the arrears just a minute before half-time with a scrambled finish, allowing the hosts to return after the restart with their tails up.
Hall was soon heading Ross Goodwin’s cross from the left just wide, but it was not long before Sheffield were level when Partridge’s powerful low strike beat Connor into the corner of the net.
Substitute Andy Ofosu then headed in the home side’s third from a Matt Roney delivery, before Rugby keeper Louis Connor pulled off a fine double save to deny Hall and Goodwin.
Aside from a long range free kick from substitute player/boss James Jepson, which Butt comfortably parried away, Town struggled as an attacking force in the second period, with Partridge rounding off the scoring on 89 minutes by registering his second with another good individual effort.
Town’s recent capitulation sees them drop to 19th place in the table and their next league match is away at Lincoln United.
The originally scheduled home game against AFC Rushden & Diamonds next Tuesday (September 20) has been cancelled, due to the opponents’ potential county cup commitments. Should Town’s tie at Brackley end all square, then the replay would be played on that date instead.
The draw for the First Round of the Birmingham Senior Cup has given Rugby a home fixture against Tividale. The tie is due to be played on October 22, with the rearranged Rushden game set for November 8.