Rushall Olympic: 1. Chris Gemmell, 2. Alex Forde, 3. Jonny Haynes, 4. Lucan Spittle ©, 5. Decio Gomes, 6. Gary Fitzpatrick, 7. Alex Melbourne, 8. Grant Beckett, 9. Danny Campbell, 10. Kyle Brady, 11. Luke Bottomer. Subs: 12. Louis Keenan (Bottomer 18), 14. Nick Amos, 16. Neil Kitching, 17. Ian Cooper, 18. Ahmed Obeng (Campbell 63).
Frickley Athletic: 1. Steve Dickinson, 2. Kelvin Bleau, 3. Ben Turner, 4. Cecil Nyomi, 5. Mark Gray, 6. Stuart Ludlam ©, 7. Grant Darley, 8. James Ashmore, 9. Danny South, 10. Brad Grayson, 11. Ryan Mallon. Subs: 12. Danny Walsh, 14. Liam Schofield, 15. Matt Semley, 17. Jon Hood.
Referee: Mr. C. Husband
Battle weary Rushall Olympic were ultimately forced to twice claw their way back from being a goal adrift as visitors Frickley Athletic almost claimed maximum points in their brave bid to escape the Evo-Stik League Premier Division relegation zone. All four goals of an entertaining two-all draw arrived in a 25 minute spell during the second period as the hosts maintained eighth position in the standings, one point ahead of nearest rivals Nantwich Town.
The Pics were forced to make two changes to the side who had accounted for Marine at the weekend as Craig Bannister was cruelly diagnosed with a second break of the same leg that he sustained 18 months ago, while Christian Dacres was also missing. In came Danny Campbell and Gary Fitzpatrick as the thread-bare hosts had manager Neil Kitching and coach Ian Cooper making up the numbers on the bench.
Clearly well up for the task in hand, the visitors were first to threaten in the 6th minute when Grant Darkey got to the right by-line before cutting back inside and driving goalwards, causing Chris Gemmell to push the ball over his crossbar to make sure.
Rushall suffered a blow on 18 minutes when the influential Luke Bottomer was forced off the field through injury and replaced by Louis Keenan as the Pics reshuffled.
On 21 minutes there was danger for Frickley as a spell of sustained pressure resulted in a low centre by Danny Campbell having to be hooked clear from the six yard box by a defender.
Two minutes later and Athletic threatened when a telling corner from the left by James Ashmore was flicked goalwards by the head of Cecil Nyomi just shy of the far post from 10 yards.
The Blues were back on the offensive two minutes prior to the half hour mark when they were awarded a debatable free-kick for an alleged infringement by Lucan Spittle. The resulting set piece from 25-yards out by Ashmore flicked off the left side of the defensive wall and was safely held by Gemmell.
As play move to the other end three minutes later Olympic responded when a great pull back from Keenan at the right by-line was met by a powerful diving header from Campbell some 12 yards out that was extremely well held by ‘keeper Steve Dickinson.
Five minutes prior to the interval and a short corner on the right from Jonny Haynes was played into Alex Melbourne who whipped in a low drive from just outside the box that went wide of the near post.
On 43 minutes there was more consternation within the confines of the home penalty area when the award of another disputed free-kick awarded in Frickley’s favour against Spittle was only quelled when the home custodian dropped on the ball as it rattled around his six yard box following a telling goal line block by a defender.
Half-Time: Rushall Olympic 0-0 Frickley Athletic
Four minutes following the restart and Athletic were first on the offensive as burly striker Danny South easily held off the challenge of Spittle in the right side of the box and hooked dangerously low into the centre where Gemmell claimed safely.
Lackadaisical defending from Olympic in the 50th minute allowed GRAYSON to burst through into the right face of the penalty area and despite appearing marginally off-side the front runner was allowed to continue as he gave the home defence the slip and fired into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
Just after the hour mark and the hosts restored parity when an infringement yielded a free-kick some 25 yards out that GRANT BECKETT superbly curled around the defensive wall, before bouncing just inside the left hand upright beyond the dive of ‘keeper Dickinson.
Seven minutes later and as Melbourne tried his luck from the right corner of the box with a shot on the run it probed just shy of the top left corner of the Frickley goal.
With twenty minutes remaining Rushall were guilty of more below par defending as the ball was played in from the right flank and ‘keeper Gemmell was unsuccessful in making a telling claim. As the defensive unit failed dismally to clear their lines the ball continued to pinball in and around the six yard box before Athletic skipper STUART LUDLAM pounced to stab home from close range as the custodian belatedly challenged.
Within five minutes of falling behind for a second time Olympic were fortunate enough to peg back their guests once more as substitute Ahmed Obeng darted through the left channel towards the by-line and delivered an excellent low centre to the far post where KYLE BRADY rattled in a clinical finish from 8 yards to earn his side a share of the spoils.
Despite some anxious moments late on the hosts were fortunate enough to hang on to a point that effectively sealed a top-nine finish in what has been a truly excellent debut campaign in Step 3 of the non-League pyramid system.
Full-Time: Rushall Olympic 2-2 Frickley Athletic