Holders Rushall Olympic began their defence of the Walsall Senior Cup with a comfortable two goal victory at West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division neighbours Sporting Khalsa.
Olympic made no less than nine changes to the starting line-up that had defeated Chorley at the weekend in Evo-Stik League Premier Division action as squad members were given a valuable run out.
The hosts were first to threaten in the 11th minute when Ismail Reid and ‘keeper Lewis Fenney went for the ball, with the latter coming off worse in the challenge. However, with an open goal at his mercy the front runner stabbed goalwards, only to see a Rushall defender hook clear off the line.
Moments later Khalsa were on the offensive again as Reid’s flag kick from the right flashed across the face of goal, evading everyone on its way through for a goal kick.
Rushall responded on 14 minutes through Craig Bannister
who eventually turned the ball home from close range, but an off-side flag had already been raised during the build-up.
In the very next phase of play a good move instigated by Alex Melbourne and Luke Bottomer
ended with Louis Keenan flashing a pacey effort just wide of the near post from the left side of the penalty area.
On 20 minutes the visitors forged into the lead when the lively Bottomer carved his way through the right channel to the by-line, before pulling the ball back to Gary Fitzpatrick
who ghosted past a defender. After slipping a slide rule pass to KEENAN
inside the left periphery of the penalty area the midfielder lashed in a fierce drive beyond ‘keeper Tom Turner.
Some more great work by Bottomer in the 27th minute almost ended in a superb individual goal as the industrious midfielder carved his way past two defenders through the right channel before sending a 30 yard drive looping marginally over the far post.
Just prior to the half hour mark and Olympic ‘keeper Fenney had to be alert to the danger as Reece Cotterill cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful drive that the Pics custodian did well to turn around the near post to yield a corner.
As Rushall countered in the 34th minute Melbourne advanced down the right flank, before cutting inside and dropping the ball on to the roof of the net with a useful 25 yard effort.
Right on the stroke of half-time and the visitors all but sealed their passage into the Quarter-Final stage of the competition as a probing run by Bottomer saw the midfielder go past his marker to the right by-line, before pulling the ball back to BANNISTER
who rifled clinically home from 12 yards beyond Turner.
Half-Time: Sporting Khalsa 0-2 Rushall Olympic
The second period degenerated into a somewhat scrappy affair with worthwhile opportunities very much few and far between, although the visitors always looked the more likely to add to their tally.
However, with 14 minutes remaining Sporting almost pulled back a consolation goal when Marcus Jackson’s deep free-kick from the right was met by the head of fellow former Olympian Nick Campbell at the far post, but the ball went narrowly over.
On 80 minutes ex-Rushall defender Rob Holdcroft and Bottomer were involved in an altercation, with both players fortunate not incur punishment after hands were clearly raised to one another.
As the tie neared a conclusion in the 85th minute the visitors almost claimed a third goal when an excellent deep centre from Keenan out on the left was met by a deft header from substitute Christian Dacres, only to see the ball clip the far post and bounce away to safety.
Full-Time: Sporting Khalsa 0-2 Rushall Olympic
: 1. Tom Turner, 2. Lee Onions, 3. John Hill, 4. Rob Holdcroft ©, 5. Reece Cotterill, 6. Marcus Jackson, 7. Marc Thomas (Clarke 68), 8. Hoplinson, 9. Nick Campbell, 10. Nathan Jackson (Smith 81), 11. Ismail Reid (Findlay 70). Subs: 12. Dean Clarke, 14. Luke Findlay, 15. Rob Smith, 16. Gurvinder Singh Atkar, 17. Steve Douglas.
: 1. Lewis Fenney, 2. Alex Forde, 3. Grant Beckett ©, 4. James Skedgel, 5. Lucan Spittle, 6. Gary Fitzpatrick
, 7. Danny Bragoli, 8. Louis Keenan, 9. Craig Bannister
(Lewis 60), 10. Alex Melbourne (Dacres 75), 11. Luke Bottomer
. Subs: 12. Mitchell Tolley
, 14. Christian Dacres, 15. Matt Lewis, 16. Ahmed Obeng
, 17. Richard Blythe.