A RUN of five straight defeats ended for Rugby Town after they earned a point from a goalless draw away at Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Evostik NPL – South Division.
Whilst the visitors’ attacking threat was limited to an occasional counter foray, an impressive rearguard display from Gary Moran’s remodelled back five caught the eye and ultimately got them the draw against the in-form Steels in South Yorkshire.
New signings Emmitt Delfouneso and Anthony Charles formed a solid central defensive unit as part of five changes from the side that had lost the FA Trophy replay at home to Bedworth four days earlier, with two further arrivals Joe Halsall and the returning crowd favourite Craig Kelly also making season debuts.
It was a quiet first period, with little goalmouth action of note at either end, although David Kolodynski did lift one over the bar from just inside the penalty area after he had been released by Aaron Moses-Garvey, with Harrison Biggins also putting his effort high of the target for the hosts in the early exchanges.
However Kolodynski’s departure with a hamstring problem midway through the first half noticeably impacted on Valley’s potency, and despite occasionally getting themselves into decent positions from their quick break play, they failed to really trouble home keeper David Reay again from this point on.
After the interval, Stocksbridge clearly upped their own game, creating a series of decent opportunities.
The excellent Delfouneso blocked a Scott Ruthven shot early in the second half, with Town keeper Louis Connor reacting well to the loose ball to save the stabbed rebound attempt.
Liam McFayden then went close for the home side with a header, with striker Joe Lumsden also trickling one just wide as the one-way traffic continued.
Delfouneso was once more in the right place to block another goalbound effort – this time from Lumsden, before the home side’s best chance of the game also fell to Lumsden, but Connor reacted quickly to block his strike after the forward had broken free down the right hand channel.
Connor followed this up by pulling off a great reaction save to deny Jake Whelan’s point blank strike, and Biggins volleyed one just wide in the closing stages, as Valley dug in for a potentially morale boosting result.