Match Report by KEVIN HAND, Photographs by GRANTY & WOODY
Rushall Olympic 4 Stratford Town 1 HT (2-1)
Monday 26 August 2019 3.00pm
BetVictor Southern League PDC at Dales Lane.
• ‘What’s gone and what’s past help……’
It was all change again at the Dales Lane Stadium as Town took on the unbeaten and new BetVictor table toppers The Pics. With Tom Fishwick absent with a broken toe, Linden Dovey indisposed and Morrison’s suspension Town’s back 3 read, Hughes, Vann and debutante Vaw Ofosu. Gyasi and Sheriff returned to the starting eleven. Played on a super new 3G pitch, raised slightly with a gentle drop-off, the weather conspired to make this a lovely Bank Holiday fixture.
It was Rushall that was first to threaten as early as the 3rd minute. Ex Redditch wide-man Shaquille Whittingham firing over from a good position. But it was Town who went closer to breaking the brief dead lock just a minute later. Wilson earned a corner on the right. Glover’s flighted cross found the head of Shariff and the ball rattled the bar dropping close to the line. Appeals for a ‘goal’ were quickly brushed aside by the officials.
It was Rushall that took the lead on 10 when Reece Mitchell’s deep corner from the right found Lee Smith unmarked. His thumping header was emphatic and undeniable. The speed of Mitchell’s cross left Taylor flapping and Wilson in ‘no man’s land.’ A feature of Rushall’s game was the imagination and variety from set plays. Although the long corner to the back post remained a feature of the Pics’ game and was to cause further problems for Town down the line.
The patched up Town eleven continued to battle and equalised in the 19th minute. Neat play in mid field saw the Mitchell Glover look up before dispatching a 30 yard drive off the right hand post beyond the despairing Flatt. This clearly rattled the Pics and on 22 minutes a Wilson cross grazed the Rushall bar.
There was a drinks’ break almost immediately and it was the Pics who dominated up to the break. On 30 minutes Taylor parried a shot from distance and when the ball was returned into the danger area ‘danger-man’ Letford flicked home with a minimum of fuss. On 33 Smith nearly doubled his tally with a far post header from a corner.
Town changed their shape for the second half with Hughes pushing forward to support Wreh. The opening exchanges were promising for Town with both Wreh and Wilson forcing saves from Flatt in a search for an equaliser. 67 minutes saw Town drop further behind as Letford had too much guile for the Town defence working a shooting angle from close range.
Revan replaced Gyasi and his impact was immediate and set alarm bells ringing in Pics’ ranks. Even so he split the Rushall rearguard on 70 only to see his thunderous drive bravely headed over the bar by substitute O’Callaghan. Good play from Hughes on 87 gave Town one last chance to respond setting Revan one on one with keeper Flatt. With screams of ‘shoot’ from the Town fans Revan chose to square to the awaiting Shariff who stumbled and fell as the pace of the ball was just too much for him. Shaquille Whittingham added insult to injury with a fourth in stoppage time.
This was an impressive performance from Rushall but a gritty and determined Town response. This is the friendliest of grounds to visit and the club clearly progressive. For Town there was much to be hopeful for in the performances of Glover, Revan and Ofosu.
• ‘What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief.’ The Winter’s Tale. Act3 Scene2
Saturday 31 August (3.00pm) Biggleswade Town (at Home)
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
| Stratford|| Rushall|
| 8||Goal Attempts|| 15|
| 5||On Target|| 10|
| 0||Blocked Shots|| 1|
| 2||Hit Woodwork|| 0|
| 9||Corners Won|| 8|
| 7||Crosses into Box|| 5|
| 8||Fouls Conceded|| 8|
| 1||Off Side|| 3|
| 2||Yellow Cards|| 1|
| 0||Red Cards|| 0|
Stratford Yellow Cards – Revan & Shariff
Rushall Yelllow Cards – Moore