FOOTBALL: AFTER Rugby Town’s crunch fixture at Northwich fell foul of a supposed waterlogged pitch last Saturday, Valley will hit the road again this weekend when they travel to Market Drayton.
The meeting between the NPL South Division’s bottom two had been unexpectedly called off around 10.45 am.
A Town club representative – who had travelled independently to the North West – then visiting the Wincham Park ground that the Vics share with Witton shortly after the announcement to find a surface which he described in his opinion as ‘eminently playable’ and ‘slightly soft underfoot but with no standing water on it’.
The same source also confirmed that the remainder of the day saw no particularly heavy downpours in the local area.
Northwich, placed 22nd in the table, are currently under player transfer restrictions having entered administration for the third time in less than a decade, and their manager Paul Moores had highlighted the ongoing injuries that his threadbare squad were suffering following their most recent outing at Kidsgrove a fortnight ago.
Rugby will now face a midweek trek to Cheshire later in the season instead for what could prove to be a season defining match, although the week’s rest did at least give ankle injury victims Aaron Moses-Garvey and Levi Rowley extra recovery time.
Town boss Gary Moran will be without the suspended Mitchell Thomson and Callum Burgess in Shropshire this weekend though, as Valley take on a side that beat them comfortably in the reverse fixture at Butlin Road back in October.
However the Gingerbread Men went on a poor run following that 3-0 success, registering just seven points from the subsequent thirty six available and were dragged down towards the relegation zone as a result.
An improved January brought them three wins from their last four league games though, and they now enjoy a sixteen point cushion over Rugby.
Town’s inactivity last weekend left them in 21st place, with the team immediately above them Loughborough suffering a heavy defeat at Rushden and the only other potential relegation candidates Carlton also well beaten by current league leaders Shaw Lane.
In addition to their to be rearranged trip to Northwich, Rugby must face Loughborough before the end of the season – with a Northwich-Loughborough match-up also part of remaining schedule, and these three games are likely to prove critical in determining the identity of the final incumbents of the two team drop zone.
Valley are back at home a week Saturday (11th February) when they host play-off chasing Basford, with another Butlin Road fixture the week after when current 13th placed Stocksbridge are the visitors, before ending the month at another mid-table club Belper.
The month of March will undoubtedly be a much tougher proposition for Moran’s men though, as it includes the visit of table topping Shaw Lane and two games against their most likely challengers for automatic promotion Witton.
# The coach to Market Drayton will leave the clubhouse at 11.00 a.m. For latest information on this, contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.