Thursday, 5 April 2018

Rusthall 3 Rochester United 2

Match 113/17/1563 - Wednesday, 4th April 2018 - SCEFL

Rusthall (1) 3 Powell 16 Hanshaw 60 Butler 86
Rochester United (2) 2 Healey 5 Simms 29
Attendance: 118

Entrance: £4 Senior
Programme: £1
Mileage: 38/7,697

Another postponement, another change of direction led me to Jockey Farm for a relegation tussle that, almost certainly, assured Rusthall’s place in the SCEFL Premier for another season.

The Rustics have had a difficult second half of the season that couldn’t have been helped by a series of postponements of home matches.

Rusthall could not have got off to a worse start going behind after just six minutes when a free kick deceived goalkeeper Steve Lawrence but rebounded off the bar for Rochester’s Jack Healey to tap-in.

Credit to bottom-of-the-table Rochester who had roared out of the blocks and created further chances with Luke Saggers and Paul Gross both having a couple of efforts each on goal before the game reached the 10 minute mark.

Gross, an ex-manager at Cray Valley, was a big presence both in terms of his playing contribution and vocal encouragement or admonishment depending on the situation.

Rusthall finally got themselves started and equalised with virtually their first attack when a surging run down the right and cross from Michael Tubb found Dan Powell, whose shot took a helpful deflection past goalkeeper Tony Coxall.

Callum Gallie’s header came back off the crossbar for Rusthall and Gross almost benefitted from a poor clearance by Lawrence but sent his shot wide.

The visitor’s re-took the lead after 30 minutes when a shot from Merrick Simms went through Lawrence and into the net. Rochester could have gone into the break in a more commanding situation but Gross saw an effort cleared from the line by Kaylan Patel and Dan Nash had a 20 yard curler come back of the right hand post.

Into the second half. Rusthall showed a greater sense of urgency with Dan Mitchell’s header saved by Coxall, but just past the hour, a free kick delivered by Nathan Moseley was converted with a header from Dan Hanshaw.

Rusthall looked the most likely winner but might have gone behind again when Patel deflected substitute Jordan Adelekon’s effort over his own bar.

Rusthall got their noses in front for the first time in the game with five minutes remaining when a cross from the left was met with a header from Paul Butler that looped over Coxall to secure the three vital points.

As it seems most likely that only one team will be relegated from the SCEFL Premier this season, this result probably consigns Rochester to that fate.

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