By Jamie Arrowsmith Wednesday 13 November 2013 Updated: 13/11 18:41
RUGBY Town’s Southern League Division One Central promotion credentials will face close scrutiny this weekend when they travel to Dunstable.
The Bedfordshire club have so far lived up to their pre-season billing as one of the potential threats at the top of the table with just two defeats in their opening 12 league fixtures and they are just two points and two places below Valley - who stayed second following their 3-1 home victory over Uxbridge on Saturday.
Dunstable returned to the Southern League structure in August following a four year absence, doing so after coasting to the South Midlands Premier Division title with an unbeaten record of 36 wins and 6 draws from their 42 matches.
Having strengthened further in the summer with the signing of a number of experienced performers at their new level and above, their early season form has not come as a surprise.
The game comes little more than a week after the announcement of the sudden death of 28 year old Parys Okai - who featured for both Rugby and Dunstable in his non-league career.
Okai scored three times for Valley in his nine appearances in 2007 and former team-mates and friends have been paying tribute to the one-time Luton Town professional footballer ever since the tragic news was broken.
Saturday’s game at Creasey Park sees Town and Dunstable face each other for only the third time in the Southern League. Rugby returned back up the M1 in December 2004 after a 3-1 victory which came two months after a 2-2 draw at Butlin Road.
Justin Marsden accounted for three of Rugby’s goals from those two games and he will be looking to add to his 2013/14 total of five, assuming he fights off the ever-increasing competition for a place in the starting line-up.
This competition was intensified last week with the signing of winger Greg Kaziboni. The ex-Northampton Town player featured for the club in pre-season but chose instead to sign for Conference North outfit Brackley. He has now returned to Butlin Road though where he made his competitive debut on Saturday.
With Sam Belcher continuing his recovery from injury by playing a full 90 minutes for Nuneaton Griff in the Midland Combination Premier Division on Saturday, and Ashley Spencer’s rehabilitation also progressing well, Valley boss Dave Stringer could soon have up to ten players fighting for the four midfield berths.
However, the extra bodies may prove useful in the coming month or so with Town now due to play twice a week every week in the run-up to Christmas.
Rugby’s fixture pile-up was not helped by the postponement of Monday’s League Cup tie at Redditch due to a waterlogged pitch.
The cup game has now been rearranged for Monday (November 18), meaning the scheduled league trip to Royston has now been put back until December 17.
With the visit to Egham and the home match against Aylesbury also squeezed into the schedule for December 3 and 10 respectively, and a date yet to set for the Birmingham Senior Cup second round clash against either Tamworth or Coleshill, there is plenty of match action coming up for Stringer’s men.
THE club coach to Dunstable will leave Butlin Road at 12noon. For latest information regarding availability contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.
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