IT was a day that saw Worcester City relinquish control on more than one front.

After six clean sheets from seven unbeaten matches, this was a small step back to some of the more manic matches of early season.

Frustration from the fans was palpable and boiled over when Nathan Hayward lost his cool with one of his critics.

There was plenty of food for thought at full-time but to view this as some sort of disaster would do a disservice to City and their more-than-capable opponents.

Perhaps the hangover from dropping three levels has yet to totally subside for some supporters with the expectation for Worcester to roll over all comers at the Victoria Ground still omnipresent.

It should be remembered, though, that Rugby possess one of the more sprightly front fours in the Midland League.

The problems they caused, particularly the effervescent Stuart Hendrie, should come as no surprise.

City’s usual vice-like grip in the middle of the park was loosened despite the best efforts of some legs tired from the exertions of playing less than 48 hours earlier.

As for Hayward, who gave everything without quite being at his best, you could empathise.

Time and opportunities for decisive moments passed by to the sound of increasingly-audible groans.

Laced with frustration for those on the pitch, it proved a combustible mix for the captain.

It would be wrong to overlook the mitigation for an unpolished attacking display and personal standards but that understanding puts no more points on the board, nor will it be of much comfort to those that consider their skipper’s conduct unseemly.

Essentially, City will have to do better to go up and Hayward has to show more discipline. It is that simple.

As for the action, it took Dave Reynolds to light the blue touch paper after a fast-paced but scrappy start.

Alex Tomkinson had already fired in a couple of dangerous crosses from the left before providing the ammunition for a bicycle kick at the near post that marked a milestone 25th of the campaign for Reynolds.

Rugby gradually advanced as the half wore on with Ruben Wiggins-Thomas ballooning over and David Kolodynski thwarted by an alert Matt Gwynne.

It came as no shock that the visitors levelled in first-half injury-time when Wiggins-Thomas eventually got around an exposed Mark Smith and pulled back for Hendrie to squeeze inside the far post.

Youngster Ethan Moran was a breath of fresh air for City having replaced the ineffective Yannick Gomes with the hosts largely on the front foot until the final 20 minutes.

From there, everything became erratic.

Rugby substitute Sam Belcher galloped through the middle all too easily and let fly with a blistering 20-yard effort that smacked the underside of the crossbar and bounced back out.

That sparked a rocky five minutes for City as Josh Ruff went down in the box under Mark Smith’s challenge before Gwynne had to charge out at the feet of Kolodynski.

City had their chances too, notably when substitute Joel Ambalu ghosted in behind only to have his prodded effort blocked by the legs of Valley keeper Niall Cooper one-on-one.

Mark Smith crashed a near-post header against the bar from a Mark Danks corner and then could not believe his luck as a header back across goal from Hayward’s carefully-crafted centre dropped agonisingly wide.