Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Rusthall 2 Lordwood 2

Match 123/17/1573 - Monday, 23rd April 2018 - SCEFL Premier

Rusthall (0) 2 Mitchell 65 Powell 66
Lordswood (2) 2 Wells 17 Huggins 24
Attendance: 85

Admission: £4 Senior
Programme: £1.50
Mileage: 38/8,176

Despite a stirring fight back it seems Rusthall’s destiny is in the hands of the Football Association’s reshuffling. Over the last month I’ve asked the same question 50 times of different people, some of whom could be considered in the know, how many are going down? But nobody either knows or are not prepared to disclose the answer.

A couple of weeks ago at Jockey Farm the mood seemed downcast as opinion was that two would be relegated with Rusthall occupying 19th place. Tonight, optimism was higher, on what grounds I do not know, that only Rochester United would lose their place in the SCEFL Premier.

The going at Jockey Farm has gone from soft to hard in a matter of a fortnight following the recent spell of dry, hot weather with the player’s studs sounding like that of galloping horses.

Lordswood, ensconced in the higher end of mid-table, have had a hectic period of catch-up with this their fifth game in 10 days but they raced out of the traps like a team desperate for the points.

Rusthall made the early chances with Ryan Waterman having a shot deflected wide and Stephan Harper, somewhat disappointingly, driving a shot into the side netting. But it was Lordswood that opened the scoring after 19 minutes when Adam Hooper’s pass opened up the Rustics defence for Jordan Wells to fire across the goalkeeper from around 12 yards.

The visitors doubled their advantage on 25 minutes with a well worked free kick that saw Hooper finding Wells, who held the ball up before laying it back to James Huggins who shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Rusthall responded well with Matt Hathway firing at the goalkeeper and also heading wide before Paul Butler saw his header touched over by Ryan Chandler. Their closest first half effort saw the lively Yannick Tchoendjin narrowly shooting over.

Whether it was Lordswood’s schedule catching up with them, Rusthall themselves have had four games in 10 days, but the home side dominated the second period and were well deserving of their comeback around the hour mark.

Harper went close after 61 minutes and, four minutes later, a fine run and cross from Tchoendjin found Dan Mitchell whose close range shot could only be helped into the goal by Chandler.

Within a minute Rusthall were level when the ball fell to Danny Powell after a shot from Waterman had been blocked. Just three minutes later the home side’s recovery could have been complete when a wickedly dipping shot from Tchoendijn was narrowly over.

Rusthall have two games remaining, away to AFC Croydon and at home to Croydon whilst Hollands & Blair, three points to the good over Rusthall, have a single away game at Beckenham to play. Whoever, finishes in that second last place has an agonising wait for the Football Association’s wheels to slowly turn.

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