By Jamie Arrowsmith 02/05 Updated: 02/05 12:29
FRUSTRATION was the over-riding emotion for Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer after the club recorded a second consecutive near miss in the race for the Southern League Division One Central play-off places.
Valley rounded off their season with a 1-0 home win over Marlow on Saturday, a result which saw them end up a place below the play-off zone in sixth - a repeat of their 2010-11 campaign finish.
Stringer - who took over as manager from Martin Sockett last summer - reflected on the disappointment of missing out again.
“Our ambition at the start of the season was to improve on last year’s showing and make the top five, so to ultimately come so close once more is very frustrating,” he said.
“Whilst I believe we’ve given it a good go overall, every time the door opened up for us, we just couldn’t quite get through it.
“It’s even more frustrating given the way the other results went at the weekend, which meant the final margin of failure was so small in the end.”
Town’s victory on Saturday saw them jump two places in the final table after both Northwood and Biggleswade suffered last day defeats, and with fifth placed Beaconsfield also losing, Rugby were just two points shy of the play-offs.
Valley’s campaign has been plagued with inconsistency and Stringer accepted that was the root cause of their narrow failure.
“We had a decent enough start to the season, but even during that I felt we weren’t strong enough in certain areas,” he added.
“That proved to be the case and we had a rotten couple of months, before we rectified it and looked a much better side in 2012 - when we only lost five times in 21 games.
“I’m fairly sure that if we had started the season with the squad we ended up with, we would have comfortably made the play-offs.
“However, even with the improved line-up, we still threw away too many silly points and didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were there for us the run-in games.”
In the league, Town started their campaign with just one defeat in their opening seven matches, but followed that up with only one win from nine, before reversing fortunes significantly around the turn of the year.
However, Rugby began to stutter again as the season drew to a close - including a crucial run of five games without victory in March.
“Going into the final couple of months, we were probably favourites to get that top five finish. However at Ashford we were somehow beaten despite dominating, and then lost our way in front of goal for a while, and couldn’t finish off the likes of Northwood and Beaconsfield - which ultimately cost us,” Stringer said.
Looking forward to the 2012-13 season, Stringer remained confident that he can finally push the club up to the next level of the non-league football pyramid.
“We believe that we now have a squad more than capable of doing well next year. It’s important that we keep the nucleus of the group together though, and with a couple of new additions we should be challenging at the top again,” he explained.
“I have spoken to most of the lads and the feedback from them is good in terms of their plans for next season. Obviously other teams will make approaches over the summer, but we have built a good spirit here, so hopefully that will count for a lot.”
THE club’s annual awards evening will be held in the V.S. Bar on Friday, May 11 (7.30pm), all are welcome to attend.
Rugby Town 1 Marlow 0 Southern League Division
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