Despite the return of Wayne Daniel
and Dave Walker
, the Pics were second best at the Look Local Stadium where the Steels' scored in each half with strikes from Nathan Joynes and Danny South. The third and final nail wasn't quite in the same class - Kyle Haynes
mistake led to the build up for Joynes to net his second.
Joynes was involved in two half-chances for Stocksbridge as the home side opened proceedings with a rapid counter attacking tempo. First, the striker finished after Janni Lipka through ball was met with a first time connection that had Gemmell beaten – shortly after, his physical presence successfully created a corner for the home side, only for the set piece to find the gloves of Rushall's number one. Cole Payne also brought a straightforward save from Gemmell with his early strike from distance.
At the opposite end, Adam Billard parried an effort from Dave Walker
and was perhaps lucky to punch the ball off the line when a Kyle Haynes
corner proved too dangerous. Grant Beckett set up Andre Landell for the first Pics' attempt and he was again the supply line when Wayne Daniel
's header, via an unspotted deflection, ended up as a Pics' corner.
Landell’s first real chance to make positive headlines came from a Kyle Haynes
free-kick, awarded against Cole Payne for a foul, but his effort was high and wide.
Fitzpatrick tried to give Beckett a sight of goal when he slid a delicious ball between two Stocksbridge defenders but the wing-back couldn’t strike it and yet again finished well wide.
The approach at the Look Local Arena was certainly direct with Billard hoofing a kick deep into the Pics’ half but the finish was accomplished as Joynes placed Lipka’s through ball and Gemmell into the net.
It was the first against the Reds on the road domestically since early September's defeat at Eastwood. But the rarity of the concession was of no interest or consolation to Kitching’s men with the live league table showing a six-point lead for North Ferriby United with the same number of games, 12, played.
With the excitable home fans baying for more, Nathan Joynes's finish just failed to meet their expectations, marginally clearing the crossbar after Cole Payne fantastic run from his own half. The half ended with Lincoln Adams saving tackle from a clean through Landell.
Neil’s players may have been first onto the pitch for the second half but the hosts beat the Pics' to it in terms of making an impact, with Payne continuing to make driving runs. Alex Callery’s barge brought the game’s first booking as the referee awarded Rushall another free-kick. This time, Rushall took it quickly and easily gave the ball away, Payne threading a precious ball to Danny South who finished easily into the bottom left-hand corner with Gemmell well beaten. It was eyes down for the Pics' and minds firmly on a difficult job with two goals now to be clawed back.
Ramone Stephens, replacing Wayne Daniel
, was sent on to assist, and assist he almost did when his flick from Craig Owen’s cross was volleyed towards goal by Landell, only for Billard to save brilliantly. Walker instantly kept the attack alive but the ball he fizzed towards goal couldn’t find the back of the net and was finger tipped wide for an Olympic corner.
Walker was substituted soon after, with Kitching bringing on Michael Clarke. The manager's third change was the withdrawal of Mitchell Tolley
. The unfit Gavin Caines
came into the defence which looked liked tactical reshuffle.
The Pics' rearguard, by contrast, had endured a difficult night - never more so than when Joynes scored his scored, Kyle Haynes
trying to prevent another long ball from Stocksbridge hesitated and the ball reached Andy Ring, crossing the ball over to Joynes for a back post headed second goal. Three-nil down, the final whistle couldn't come quick enough for Neil's men.
Final score: Stocksbridge 3, Rushall 0
Rushall Olympic: Gemmell, K Haynes, Beckett, Tolley (Caines 59), Daniel (Stephens 55), Spittle, Fitzpatrick, Bragoli (c), Walker (Clarke 62), Landell, Owen. Subs not used: Craddock, J Haynes.
Stocksbridge: Billard, Bockarie, Swirad, Adams (c), Bowden-Lovell, Carney, Payne (Darley 75), Lipka, South, Joynes (Darker 71), Ring (Booker 79). Subs not used: Hunter, Schofield.
Referee: Mr B Lamb