I had seen both of these sides play before, but never visited Kilsby Lane. In fact, I first saw Warwick back in 2014, a 2-1 home win over Nuneaton Griff. There years later, I was back at the Racers to see them go down 3-0 at home to Bromsgrove Sporting (Racing Greens). My first encounter with Rugby Borough was much more recent, a very entertaining encounter with Moulton last August (Moulton Rock).
When you turn into the complex off Kilsby Lane, through the large Rugby Borough emblazoned gates, you pass down a fairly long service road before turning left towards the large car park. Only one word can describe the vista that greets you. Impressive. The whole place is a hive of activity. Training taking place on the myriad of small-sided pitches with both boy's and girl's teams being put through their paces by coaches, as far as the eye can see. In the centre of it all the floodlights of the main pitch, adjacent to a large clubhouse and backed by the Rugby Gymnastics club building. It's clear to see that money has been spent on creating a sporting community hub for the people of Rugby and, judging by the number of cars, kids and parents, it is certainly working.
The main pitch is accessed via a turnstile just to the is if the clubhouse building. To your right, as you enter, is the Alan Young Stand, a covered seating area situated between the corner flag and the goal. There's another small stand on the opposite side of the playing area, between the halfway line and the gymnastics club. The dugouts are also on this side of the pitch.
To your left is the entrance to the large clubhouse and a patio area that looks out over the pitch. There's a club history mural on the wall in the clubhouse and the entire ground is liberally sprinkled with Rugby Borough logos. It's a superb sports facility that the town should be proud of.
Of course,there's always a but. I say this every time I visit a 3G facility. I completely undertsand the need to have artificial pitches It makes absolute perfect sense financially. However, they are a no from me when it comes to football. Training, yes. Matches, no. They just take something away from the game in my opinion.
When I decided on this game, I did a little research into the teams, especially the home team and their ground. It has to be said that the Rugby Borough website, as is the case with their ground, is top notch. Nicely laid out with plenty of information, especially around the history of the club.
Borough's journey in the non-league pyramid so far has been a case of one success after another. They joined the Leicestershire Senior League in 2017, winning Division One at the first attempt. The following season they won the Premier League. There followed two abandoned seasons but Borough were at it again in 2021/22, winning the Premier League again and gaining promotion to the Spartan South Midlands league. They finished third in Division One, once again gaining a promotion, this time changing leagues and joining the United Counties structure, Premier Division South. Somewhat unsurprisingly, their meteoric rise had to plateau at some point and life in Step 5 has proven to be more of a challenge to them. Sitting 13th at the start of play today, they have amassed 15 points from 13 games, all of which have been secured at Kilsby Lane. They have, however, won three of their last six outings.
Warwick have had a good start, winning 10 of their 14 games and sitting nicely in 4th spot at the start of play. Interestingly, they have been prolific scorers on the road, averaging three per game. They have managed to win four of their last six games. A win tonight would see The Racers jump into top spot in the table.
Another plus point for Rugby Borough is that they post the teams on a whiteboard before kick-off. I wish all clubs would do this.
Kicking towards the car park end, Warwick in their all white change kit, started the brighter. Only six minutes into the game they broke down the right flank and when the ball was fizzed across the six-yard box, there was top scorer Luke Shearer, flying in to seemingly open the scoring. However, he put his effort over the top and Borough lived to fight another day.
Undeterred, Warwick continued to have the lion's share of possession but couldn't find a way past a resolute Rugby defence.
We were past the halfway mark in the first period before the home side mustered their first opportunity of any real note when Justin Marsden was played in on goal but, turning on the ball, he fired well over. A warning for Warwick, however.
Straight up the other end, Warwick went close when Ethan Flaig was caught dallying out on the right side. Louie Monaghan robbed him of the ball and drove into the box only to see his shot well blocked by Jake Bull in the home goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, Rugby clocked up their first strike on target when Halim Halim tried his luck from the edge of the box. Bradley Catlow got down well to save. Then, shortly afterwards, Warwick broke through the middle allowing Chris Jones to get a shot off from the edge of the box, straight into the body of Bull.
After that brief spell of action at both ends, things calmed down a little. Gerard McGahey put a long range effort over for Rugby on 40 minutes, before the game burst into a flurry of activity before the break. With 44 minutes on the clock a Rugby free-kick from the right was delivered dangerously into the six-yard area where Ethan Flaig was a matter of inches from getting a decisive head to the ball. Warwick immediately went up the other end where Chris Jones was allowed to get a strike away which beat Bull but came back off the foot of the post. We were into added time but the first half action wasn't over. Rugby still had time to go close themselves when a cross from the left evaded everyone and seemed to come back off the far post before being cleared.
HT Rugby Borough 0 Racing Club Warwick 0. Warwick had the lion's share of possession and should have gone ahead early on. After that, neither side threatened too much until the closing five minutes, when both went very close.
However, even the appearance of Shay could not help muster any significant opportunities for wither team in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half. It was the 64th minute minute before James Hancocks, on as a substitute for The Racers, sent a speculative volley just wide of the mark. It was a good effort that appeared to aprk a period of pressure from the visitors. A minute later Monaghan tirned sharply oin the box and sent a volley thudding into Bull's midriff. A good atop fro the keeper. Warwick were almost camped in th Rugby half at this point, but stil couldn't find that final, finishing touch. They also had to be aware of their hosts on the break. One such raid led to a free-kick on the edge of the Warwick box which Lockley fired just over the bar, although Catlow clearly had it well covered. that was in the 75th minute and, depsite both sides putting in a lot of hard work, there were still no goals to be found in the closing quarter hour.
FT Rugby Borough 0 Racing Club Warwick 0. A hard-earned and deserved point for the home side. Warwick huffed and puffed but Rugby defended stoutly and made a few chances themsleves. Teh big chance that Warwick squandered early could, possibly, have made a massive difference had it go ne in. We'll never know.
On Saturday Rugby face a tricky looking trip to Aylestone Park, who have only lost once at home. Warwick are back at home in a tasty-looking match-up with second placed St Neots Town.
Rugby Borough: Bull, Draper, Young, Baker, Flaig, Glasscoe, Creaney, McGahey(c), Lockley, Marsden, Halim. Subs: Rea, Johnson, Steele, Barnett, Cooke
Racing Club Warwick: Catlow, Dlionga, Carsley, Andrews, Barnett, Templeton(c), Quinn, Hazell, Monaghan, Shearer, Jones. Subs: Hancocks, Parsons, Ashmore, Ebbutt, Hamp
Ground Number: 385