Rushall rally to edge thriller at Hednesford
By Walsall Advertiser | Thursday, January 03, 2013, 09:20
HEDNESFORD TOWN 3 RUSHALL OLYMPIC 4
Rushall Olympic (in red) claimed a fine comeback win at Hednesford. Pictures by Colin Rogers
The tackles fly in during the New Year's Day derby clash.
RUSHALL bounced back from their Boxing Day shocker in the best possible fashion as they came from 2-0 down at second-placed Hednesford to triumph with the last kick of the game.
They were a goal behind inside eight minutes as Nathan Woolfe went down under a clumsy challenge from Ramone Stephens in the area and Hednesford's Elliott Durrell sent Pics keeper Chris Gemmell the wrong way from the spot.
It looked as if Rushall were in for another heavy defeat when the Pitmen added a second goal in the 21st minute as an error by Stephens in midfield was punished by Aaron Rey who surged forward and crossed for strike partner Neil Harvey to slot home from close range.
Three minutes later, there was more danger for the Pics as Durrell delivered a free-kick into the box but a downward header from Francino Francis was safely gathered by Gemmell.
On 35 minutes, Olympic centre half Gavin Caines was both outwitted and outpaced by the tricky Rey who twisted and turned to beat his marker but fired straight into the midriff of Gemmell from 20 yards.
Rushall ended the half in slightly better fettle and after Ahmed Obeng was bundled over just outside the area, Caines' free kick flew narrowly over.
They continued their improvement after the break as Kyle Haynes was foiled by Town keeper Steve Dickinson, before pulling a goal back on 52 minutes as Wayne Daniel powered home a header from Haynes' corner.
However, Hednesford restored their two-goal cushion just three minutes later as Town defender Ben Bailey ghosted in to meet a Woolfe free kick and plant a free header beyond the despairing dive of Gemmell.
Rushall would not be bowed, though, and Josh Craddock tested Dickinson with a low strike before a Grant Beckett corner was nodded just wide by Pics goalscorer Daniel.
The game's turning point arrived on 69 minutes as Obeng was hauled down by Francis after latching onto Danny Bragoli's classy through ball.
Francis was sent off for a second yellow card and it was double punishment for the Pitmen as Olympic substitute Joel Purkiss curled a beautiful free-kick around the defensive wall into the bottom corner to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
Within two minutes the Pics were incredibly back on level terms when an error from Hednesford sub Sam Barnes allowed Dave Walker to pick up possession and surge into the box before slotting home.
With Hednesford at sixes and sevens, Olympic continued to make the extra man count and on 75 minutes a great ball over the top of the home defence by Craddock found Walker whose lofted effort went just wide.
Six minutes later, though, there was a let-off for the Pics as Caines needlessly conceded a corner and the flag-kick dropped nicely for Barnes but the defender failed to make amends for his earlier error as he rifled well wide from close range.
An acrobatic overhead kick from the Pitmen's Rey in the 85th minute almost provided the hosts with a dramatic fourth goal but Gemmell was alert to the danger and tipped the dipping ball over his crossbar.
With two minutes remaining, Obeng again found himself in a one-on-one situation with keeper Dickinson after stealing a march on his marker to surge through on goal, but was denied by the legs of the stopper.
However, just as honours looked set to end even, Rushall bagged the winner three minutes into injury time as Walker raced through on goal and provided a clinical low finish beyond Dickinson.