: 1. Ben Hinchcliffe, 2. John Disney, 3. Lewis Short (Woolfe), 4. Dominic Collins, 5. Tom Smythe, 6. Sean Kinsella (Roddy), 7. Paul Ennis, 8. Steve Abbott ©, 9. Michael Clarke (Riley), 10. Tom Evans, 11. David Fitzpatrick. Subs: Kyle Armstrong, Ryan Wade, Michael Roddy, Wayne Riley, Nathan Woolfe.
: 1. Lewis Fenney, 2. Martyn Naylor © (Tolley 81), 3. Louis Keenan, 4. James Skedgel, 5. Decio Gomes, 6. Alex Forde, 7. Alex Melbourne, 8. Christian Dacres, 9. Craig Bannister
, 10. Ahmed Obeng
(Bottomer 88), 11. Gary Fitzpatrick
. Subs: 12. Luke Bottomer
, 14. Mitchell Tolley
, 15. Grant Beckett, 16. Alan Wilkes, 17. Neil Kitching
: Mr. J. Hunt.
Rushall Olympic emerged triumphant from a nine-goal thriller at Kidsgrove Athletic’s Seddon Stadium as the Pics dumped title chasing Evo-Stik League Premier Division rivals Northwich Victoria out of the Doodson Sport Cup to progress through to the Semi-Final stage.
Although both sides took the opportunity to ring the changes with the business end of the campaign fast approaching, the opponents were both none the less fully committed to the cause with the prospect of the eventual victors moving into the final four of the competition.
The visitors were quickly into their stride, aiming to bounce back from their weekend disappointments on the North Yorkshire coast and surged into a fifth minute thanks to a fluent move. Alex Forde battled to win possession in midfield before picking out Alex Melbourne along the right flank with a slide rule pass. As the wide man delivered a well flighted first time centre into the box Ahmed Obeng
latched on to the ball and drilled a fine finish past ‘keeper Ben Hinchcliffe.
Unfortunately, Olympic’s lead lasted barely a minute when straight from the restart the Vics pushed forward in numbers and as a centre was delivered from the left channel Decio Gomes failed to make a move for the ball and DAVID FITZPATRICK
reacted quickest to rifle in the equaliser beyond Lewis Fenney.
In the ninth minute Rushall were back on the offensive when a Louis Keenan flag kick from the right was curled in towards the far post and was met by a powerful header from James Skedgel 12 yards out, forcing Hinchcliffe to hastily beat away the danger to concede another corner.
Pics’ defender Gomes was punished for not playing to the whistle on 18 minutes as the stopper inexplicably picked the ball up in live play, assuming that the referee was about to blow for an unforthcoming infringement. The resulting free-kick for the handling offence was played into the box and STEVE ABBOTT
had time and space to deftly head home into the top left corner.
Third placed Northwich knew that they certainly had a game on their hands six minutes later when plucky Pics restored parity. A ball played forward from the rearguard began proceedings, which was nodded down by Craig Bannister
to Gary Fitzpatrick
, who in turn fed Christian Dacres. As the ball eventually broke free back to Bannister the front runner drifted out wide towards the left hand by-line before delivering an excellent centre to the far post that was met by MELBOURNE
who lashed in a superb first time drive that beat Hinchcliffe all ends up.
Ten minutes prior to the interval and the tie turned once again in the hosts favour as Rushall ‘keeper Fenney failed to make the required strong claim in a crowded goalmouth and when the ball was only half cleared by his colleagues as far as the edge of the box TOM SMYTHE
was on hand to drill in a powerful first time finish.
Eight minutes after falling behind for the second time on the night Rushall showed their mettle by once more equalising. Melbourne once more proved himself to be the creator as he spotted an excellent run by BANNISTER
into the penalty area who instinctively latched on to the inch perfect pass and side footed clinically past Hinchcliffe.
In the very next phase of play Olympic had the ball in the back of the net once again as a Martyn Naylor flag kick from the left was curled in towards the far post where Skedgel bundled the ball over the goal line, only to be rebuffed by an off-side flag. However, the Pics were not to be denied a fourth goal when in the third minute of injury time a brilliant finish into the bottom left corner from top scorer OBENG edged his side into the lead once more after being set up by Melbourne.
: Northwich Victoria 3-4 Rushall Olympic
Seven minutes into the second period and the visitors all but cemented their place in the Semi-Final draw as they rocked the Vics with a fifth goal, their largest influx this term by far. As Keenan’s flag kick was delivered from the right some school boy defending from the hosts saw Hinchcliffe also flap at the cross before the ball eventually fell towards the far post. After being nodded back in to the danger zone by Bannister, midfielder DACRES
used his strength to power in a close range header.
The second period otherwise proved to be something of an anti-climax, compared to the seven-goal opening half, with Northwich no doubt having their mind somewhat focused on their forthcoming FA Trophy tie at Newport County.
However, in the latter stages of the tie it was the hosts who began to look increasingly more of a threat and with ten minutes remaining Fenney was forced into an excellent save to deny the tricky Paul Ennis who had carved his way into the box and unleashed a snap shot.
On 83 minutes the Vics pulled back what turned out to be a mere consolation goal when another defensive error from Gomes let in TOM EVANS
who produced a neat finish into the bottom right corner after getting beyond the Pics back line.
Although there was a nervous moment for the visitors with three minutes remaining as Ennis went to ground under a strong defensive challenged that unleashed a volley of penalty appeals, they sagely saw out a further five minutes of stoppage to claim a notable scalp and a second Semi-Final berth in the space of a week.
: Northwich Victoria 4-5 Rushall Olympic