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INTERVIEW: Manager Paul Smith reflects on games post-Thatcham and looks ahead to Shawbury fixture

Manager Paul Smith has spoken about the positive results against Stourport Swifts and Rugby Town that followed our FA Vase disappointment to Thatcham Town and looks ahead to our league match at Shawbury United this Saturday.

Firstly, commenting on our opponents on Saturday in the Total Motion Midland Football League Premier, Paul expects a tough encounter.

“Shawbury is another very tough fixture. Victory against Wulfrunians And Lye, the latter being a huge 7-2 win, coupled with a very narrow defeat to Westfields, show that they are in very good form and will be very difficult to beat.

“That said, if we go with the right mindset, show the desire and application we did at Rugby then we are capable of coming away with a positive result.”

RIchard Gregory shoots on goal in our 3-1 win vs Shawbury in December. Picture courtesy of Geoff Hawkesworth


The Rugby win Paul eluded to came a week after the FA Vase exit to Thatcham. This was a 2-1 victory, whereby they came from behind, following on from penalty shoot out success in the Worcestershire Senior Urn semi final against Stourport Swifts in the week leading up to it.

This Rugby win was a big one, as Paul explains: “Without sounding disrespectful to the Worcestershire Senior Urn, the Rugby game was even bigger than the Stourport game.

“The league being the bread and butter, it would have been a huge blow being knocked out the Vase then losing the following league game. The last time we lost consecutive competitive fixtures was the back end of 2015/16 season. It’s a record we don’t want broken and one we are proud of.”

Robbie Bunn strikes during our 2-1 win over Rugby Town. Picture courtesy of Rob McLaren


Striker Jason Cowley bagged the winner in the Rugby game, his first goal following a small drought by his standards. Paul was delighted at Cowley netting the decider.

“Jason scoring the winner was nearly as important to me as the result!” he said.

“We are very close; I know how much he has been feeling this spell without scoring. I told him till I was blue in the face it didn’t matter, as he works as hard as two players and the goals will come.

“I believe in him. Whatever I said wouldn’t have mattered, he needed that goal and no one was happier than me. Hopefully he will relax a bit now.

“A top lad, top player and goals will come.”


A jubilant Jason Cowley after his winner versus Rugby Town. Picture courtesy of Geoff Hawkesworth.


The Rugby game was also special as it saw the return of Ahmed Ali. Paul was quick to heap praise on the influential midfielder.

“It’s brilliant to be able to welcome Ahmed back into the group; even more so on the back of Reece Hewitt and Sammy Wills taking some time out.

“Those that watched Ahmed last season will vouch that he was one of the very best midfielders in the league.

“I firmly believe once up to match speed he will be one of the best in this division to.

“The reaction he received from our brilliant fans on Saturday told Ahmed and I how much he is loved here.

“He has made a mistake and been punished severely for that. I will now help him get his life and football back on track.”


Ahmed Ali thanks the crowd after our 2-1 win vs Rugby Town. Picture courtesy of Rob McLaren.


Commenting on the aforementioned Worcestershire Senior Urn semi-final penalty shoot out win vs Stourport Swifts, three days after the FA Vase disappointment, Paul said: “The Stourport win was an important victory. With a number of players unavailable, it was made that much more difficult.

“With it being the first game after the awful showing at Thatcham and without a training session in between, I was concerned.

“That said, we worked very hard which was the one thing I asked for. Thankfully we got the desired result.”


Striker Sean Brain was on the scoresheet against Stourport Swifts. Picture courtesy of Geoff Hawkesworth.


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