Rusthall 2 – 1 Godalming
It is so frustrating watching the Gs at the moment. After that crazy affair at BA last week where we were comfortably 1-0 up until a minute or two before half time (and we should have been further ahead), but ended with only 9 players on the pitch, having been down to 8 at one time. To come away from that game with nothing in the way of points was a body blow.
We travelled in hope that the footballing Gods would shine a little more favourably upon us as we met Rusthall at their very attractive ground bathed in sunshine in deepest Kent.
With Joe Lewis suspended for this game and Ryan Villa presumably for 3 matches, they were obvious absentees from the squad as well as Mo Amghar who had a broken nose to go along with some other injuries he was carrying. With no sign of Jake Heard or Jack Stow it was going to be a tough contest against a side who had despatched C.C. Premier League opposition in the form of Balham in the previous round and would therefore be full of confidence. On the good side it was great to see Rory Sellick back, although he was to being asked to play at centre back, where he has done well for us, but is not his preference. It is the curse of being a good utility player.
But the G’s not for the first time looked by far the better side in the first half with some really good-looking quick passing and pretty build-up play that kept the home crowd quiet and the home keeper on his toes.
Kenny made an impression in the opening minutes, cutting in from the right and slipping the ball through to Francis Sey who hit a great shot that would have found the top corner had not the Rustic’s keeper got up well to tip it over the bar.
Next it was Richie Mbele who found time to get in a cracking shot that was again tipped over after some really good inter-passing in the midfield.
By the time we got to the water break the home side had not mounted a decent attempt on the G’s goal. But we know what can happen if you do not take your chances. Kenny again got past his marker, only to see his shot go beyond the far post.
The home side had their keeper to thank for a fine performance to keep the score level at half time.
Rusthall started to find their feet in the second half and with the help of some sloppy defending won a couple of corners. They played a short corner before hitting a low cross to the near post, which was met by their number 9 who powered the ball past Jordan Knight. This got the home crowd going. They seemed to be taken with Jordan Knight.
After having had by far the better of the game it seemed the hoodoo had returned to haunt us yet again.
At around 20 minutes into the second half Rusthall attacked again down their right and swung the ball into the penalty area where one of their forwards got his head to the ball. Jordan dived to his left and got to it, pushing the ball away, but tantalisingly it hit the inside of his far post and rebounded in. Now 2 -0 down.
Jack Cleeveley got in a shot on goal as did Richie Mbele, but they could not beat the home keeper.
Les then brought on Jordan Cavender apparently from the G’s youth team to replace Darren Wheeler who had picked up a knock. It only took him a few minutes to settle in and he delivered a mighty shot, which again the home keeper did remarkably well to save.
The G’s did not give up and won a penalty for handball with around 15 minutes still to go.
To his credit Ethan Kaiser strode up from the back and confidently despatched it low and hard. Ethan for me has shown a terrific improvement this season. The home keeper then made his only mistake of the day, in getting booked. Tiny margins again being the difference between winning and losing on the day.
Really sad to be going home again thinking of what might have been had one or two of those shots found the net.
With the outstanding trio from last season of Ollie Stevens, Jack Howard and Curtis Osano all missing/gone we have lost the central spine of the team. I only heard about Ollie from players at the game. He was a terrific find for the G’s and I am sure we all wish him well in the future. It is not only as a striker that he will be missed as he always came back to defend set pieces and his heading ability in that role will be missed.
We have an abundance of talent amongst these youngsters (including it would seem likely Jordan Cavender from his short appearance) but still need a bit more firepower up front in the absence of Ollie.
Points will surely come if we can keep delivering good performances like this and can keep the basis of this squad together.