26.12.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Rushall Olympic

Brodie (19)

Hednesford Town

Walsh (40), Gatter (49)

(1) 1

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(1) 2

Attendance

MoTM

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578

James Fitzgibbon

L D D L D D L W W L W

Lancaster City (A) 30.12.17

The Pitmen offered up a Christmas treat to their travelling supporters this afternoon, finally shaking off their Dales Lane hoodoo to record all three points over local rivals Rushall Olympic

 

Hednesford arrived in North Walsall off the back of a controversial defeat to Shaw Lane at the weekend, with many still smarting at the manner of defeat against the title-chasers from Barnsley. Manager Rob Smith was still without the services of Ben Bailey, Jim Mutton and Darren Campion, so once again had to cobble together a makeshift defence, with Charlie Gatter dropping into a centre back position and moving Callam Mendez-Jones to right back. Mason Walsh was handed a debut after a bright late cameo at the weekend, whilst Joey Butlin returned to the side in place of Danny Glover

 

This Boxing Day derby had the added spice of Liam McDonald's appearance in the Rushall dugout, with the former Hednesford manager taking up the reigns at Rushall back in October. Unusually, there was not the usual smattering of former Hednesford players in the Rushall ranks, with only striker Dominic Dell amongst McDonald's matchday squad. Former York City and Stockport striker Richard Brodie led the line for the Pics after he followed McDonald from Solihull to Dales Lane

 

On a dull, grey day with the West Midlands, with a hint of snow in the air, the Pitmen made a dominant start to proceedings, pushing Rushall back into their own third as they searched for an early opener. Butlin was the first man to show his hand, driving in a shot in the second minute that was easily fielded by Jahquil Hill in the Rushall goal

 

The away side won a succession of corner kicks in the next five minutes, with James Lawrie's delivery well dealt with by the Rushall defence

 

James Fitzgibbon continued his fine recent form with a succession of flying runs down the left wing in the first fifteen minutes, turning Josh Webb inside out with his wing play. Twice be got to the touchline and pulled the ball back into the six-yard box, with the second one turned goalwards by Lawrie but being denied by Hill on his goal line

 

An intelligent slide-rule pass from the impressive Joe Fitzpatrick on twelve minutes played Fitzgibbon in behind the Rushall defence, with his driven effort well saved by Hill low down to his right as the Pitmen continued to create chances

 

A deep ball into the Rushall penalty area from Fitzpatrick found the head of Butlin on sixteen minutes, with the burly striker intelligently heading down into the path of Lawrie, who drove a shot narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area

 

Rushall finally delivered a shot in anger a minute later, with Dan Waldron pulling the ball back into the path of Jordon Sangha, whose half-volley was well held by James Wren

 

A minute later, Wren made an even better save, diving to his left to smother Waldron's shot after Brodie had played his team-mate in behind the Hednesford back line

 

Despite Hednesford's dominance, it was the hosts that took the lead in the nineteenth minute through Brodie; Waldron took advantage of Mendez-Jones leaving acres of space in behind him, taking a moment to pick out the Rushall number nine, who steered the ball beyond Wren from twelve yards out to give the Pics the lead

 

The Pitmen responded well, with the tricky Walsh causing all sorts of problems for Hednesford down the right wing. After turning Zeyn Hakeem inside out, the on-loan youngster whipped in a deep cross that was missed by everyone as it skipped across the six-yard box

 

There was a long, imposed break in play for the next nine minutes after the assistant referee on the far side of the ground went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. The referee's assessor stepped up and replaced the injured official after swiftly getting changed, adding nearly ten minutes to the game in the process

 

The break seemed to suit the Pitmen, who regrouped well and finished the half strongly. Fitzgibbon again did well to turn Webb inside out and supply another quality cross on thirty-nine minutes, with the Rushall defence and Hill somehow managing to keep the ball out as it bounced around inside their penalty area

 

The Pitmen deservedly got themselves back on level terms a minute later, as Lawrie's superb through ball picked out Walsh, who did well to time his run in behind the Rushall defence. Walsh beat Hill with a powerful shot from an angle, driving his shot beyond the onrushing keeper and into the roof of the net for his first Hednesford goal

 

Wren made a good save to deny Waldron on forty three minutes, before more superb wing play from Fitzgibbon saw him drift past two challenges and pull the ball back from the touchline, only for a last-ditch clearance from Milan Butterfield to deny Lawrie a clear shot on goal

 

With a minute left in the first half, the Pitmen went agonisingly close to taking the lead, as superb wing play from Walsh saw him escape two Rushall players and cross for Mendez-Jones. The defender's header cannoned off the crossbar and fell to Butlin, who failed to turn the bouncing ball home from close range

 

There was more frustration with the woodwork in added time, as a wonderful marauding run from Fitzgibbon saw the winger clip the crossbar with a powerful rising shot from the edge of the penalty area

 

Butlin had more chances to give the visitors the lead in the nine extra minutes, firstly getting on the end of a long ball over the top from Oji after he broke the Rushall offside trap. However, the onrushing Hill put the striker off, and his attempted lob dropped well wide of goal

 

With the final move of the half, more mesmerising wing play from Walsh saw the Altrincham man play the ball over to Butlin, but his glancing header flew over the crossbar

 

Buoyed by their first-half display, the visitors started the second half strongly, with Walsh testing Hill's reflexes with a smart shot on forty-eight minutes that was palmed away for a Hednesford corner. After winning a second corner kick that was partially cleared by Rushall, Fitzgibbon found a pocket of space to whip in a cross towards Butlin, who forced Hill into dropping the ball on the goal line. Despite protests from both sides as the ball rolled across the line, Gatter stepped in to put the ball over the line once and for all for his second goal in four days

 

Butterfield tried to respond to the Pitmen taking the lead by lifting a good chance wide of goal for Rushall, before Matt Curley was booked for a slightly over-the-top foul on the left hand side of the pitch on fifty six minutes

 

Brodie - taking much of the flak from the large travelling support - turned a good chance for Rushall over the crossbar on fifty nine minutes. This was followed a few minutes later by a half chance for Butterfield once again, as he fired over the crossbar after picking the ball up on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

 

Walsh's game ended on sixty eight minutes, as the Pitmen brought on one of Saturday's red-carded players in the form of Glover

 

Oji went close to sealing the win for the Pitmen on seventy five minutes, as he dived in to head a Lawrie corner inches wide of the foot of the post as he steamed in

 

This was to be the last action Lawrie saw in the game, as he was replaced with ten minutes remaining by on-loan Jordan Graham

 

Wren was alert to the danger Rushall offered in the final ten minutes, as the Pics went in search of an equaliser. The Hednesford stopper made a good stop low down to deny new signing Bradley Maslen-Jones on eighty-one minutes, diving to his right to hold a low drive from the half time substitute

 

With seven minutes remaining, the Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon as loanee Laurence Taylor came on in place of the hard-working Butlin

 

You always felt that Rushall would have one more great chance left in them, with their best chance to equalise coming on eighty eight minutes; Sangha's through ball to Zak Lilly saw the midfielder drive a shot in on goal, only for Wren to once again come up with the goods and make a fine save in the centre of his goal

 

So, a twenty three year record is broken by the Pitmen in impressive fashion, claiming the local bragging rights on their travels for the second time in the campaign after their win over Stafford Rangers in August. The games continue to come thick and fast for the quickly-improving Pitmen, as they head to Lancaster City on Saturday in a mid-table clash

Rushall Olympic: Hill, Webb, Hakeem (Maslen-Jones 45), Butterfield , Hull ©, Whittall, Duke (Lilly 73), Smikle, Brodie, Sangha, Waldron   Subs Unused: Ezewele, Brown, Dell

 

Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Curley , Fitzpatrick, Oji, Gatter, Walsh (Glover 68), Thorley ©, Butlin (Taylor 83), Lawrie (Graham 80), Fitzgibbon  Subs unused: Mbunga, Harris

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