PICS MORE THAN MANAGE AWAY AT BRADFORD
It was the Pics management team that lead the way as they scored twice without reply at Bradford Park Avenue.
Rushall Olympic made mathematically sure of their status as a Step 3 football club with a grafting 2-0 win at play-off chasers Bradford Park Avenue.
On a foul day in West Yorkshire the Pics scraped together a side that included manager Neil Kitching making his 100th start for the visitors leading the line and Coach Ian Cooper in the middle of the park. However the Pics started brightly and saw efforts from Melbourne and Obeng drift wide before the Pics took control with two goals in three first half minutes just after the quarter hour mark.
After Nick Amos was adjudged to have been fouled in the centre circle Johnny Haynes put a high ball into the box and gaffer NEIL KITCHING climbed highest to plant a header into the net past the home keepers despairing dive.
Soon afterwards the home full back failed to keep the ball in play under pressure from Obeng and Alex Melbourne swung his corner over to the far post where NICK AMOS headed firmly home to give the Pics a 2-0 lead.
The double strike stunned the home side and their fans and it was a distinctly grumpy atmosphere at the
Horsfall Stadium as the home side tried to force their way back into the game. The home side had had two efforts of their own prior to the Pics double strike but now they kicked on and tried their luck from any distance and any angle.
Rushall were defending with trademark resolve but were hindered when James Skedgel received extended treatment for a calf injury that eventually saw the centre half replaced at half time by Lucan Spittle. Before then though Avenue were trying their utmost to create a clear cut opportunity and looked very dangerous down their left hand side but apart from one goal bound chipped effort being cleared by Decio Gomes the home side struggled to stretch Chris Gemmell in the Rushall goal.
The second half however was a different matter. Chris Gemmell was forced to make one flying stop within the opening couple of the restart; clawing the ball away from the top right hand corner at the expense of what was a plethora of second half corners following a scramble in the visitors box.
The West Yorkshire side were pushing as many men forward as possible and this did make them vulnerable to counterattacks and Alex Melbourne looked like he had again provided the assist when his slide rule pass found Obeng free in the box however the pacy front man could only shovel his effort at the keeper.
The Pics were working very hard to protect their goal and make life as awkward for their hosts as possible in a game which was flowing from end to end on a pitch made slick by the torrential and persistent rain. The home sides efforts were also as persistent and there were countless challenges put in to keep the visitors at bay. Corner after corner was swung in but there was always a Rushall head climbing highest to knock the ball clear once more.
Obeng was replaced by Brady and Kitching by Bannister as the Pics tried to keep themselves at their freshest but the home side still pushed on. Gemmell made a second stop that stood out amongst the more routine in capturing the disbelief of the home fans, but that was nothing compared to the third world class save. With Gemmell moving to his right as a cross was swung in a header was zonked goal wards back in the direction whence it came. Gemmell got a hand on the ball as it bounced and was able to turn the ball away to safety.
When Gemmell was eventually beaten the home side still could not celebrate as the ball hit the base of the post and then span to safety.
The referee finally blew his whistle to bring to an end a fixture which saw the Pics move back up to the eight position in the table. 240 days ago Rushall gained an unlikely point against a Chester side that were today clinched the league title, today they secured their future at this level for a second season with a similar trademark gritty performance that bloodied the nose of a club with promotion aspirations.
The Pics will now travel to Chasetown on Wednesday evening in the Walsall Senior Cup, having secured berths in the finals of two knock out competitions already they will be looking to keep the hopes for a hat trick of cup victories alive.