FREAK EQUALISER UNDOES HARD WORK BY BLUES
The Blues drew a game that in previous matches would have lost, but unfortunately that was on the back of a battling performance that deserved the win, if not for a freak equalising goal.
Rustington started with the same 11 as they had done for the last 4 games.
The game began fairly even, Midhurst adopted to position Gary Norgate in the centre of defence rather than as a forward as we had expected.
But as the game progressed it was evident that Midhurst’s main strengths were going forward even without Norgate up top.
The Rustington back 4 had to be alert with a few early crosses from the Midhurst wingers but nothing that troubled Charlie Gammons in goal.
With some joy down the right from Rustington, Rob Butcher, Chris Kirkham and Chris Matthews linked up well and from the resulting cross from Butcher, James Bennett met the cross perfectly to head into the top left hand corner.
James Bennett and Andy Boxall were dominating the middle of midfield and stopped the Midhurst players settling on the ball. Ross Adams on the left began to get more and more into the game, and his pass allowed Steve Kirkham to break the offside trap and sprint through. His cross to the far post found his brother Chris free, and from 6 yards out, managed to agonisingly fire over the bar.
Moments later, more build up play in the middle of the park, allowed Chris Matthews to get the wrong side of his marker, but he only managed to poke the ball wide of the goal as the Midhurst keeper rushed out to close him down.
Rustington had to be strong at the back with Chris Green, John Beaney and Jack Corbett all winning important headers from any Midhurst set piece.
Another ball through to Steve Kirkham from Andy Boxall, allowed the striker to neatly dink the ball over the on rushing keeper, however the ball once again narrowly bounced the wrong side of the post for Rustington
Midhurst came out for the 2nd half flying – the first 10 minutes was one way traffic and Rustington needed to be at their best to clear their lines.
Unfortunately a throw in for Rustington was intercepted and a hopeful ball over the top looked to be heading straight to Charlie in Goal – however a very strong challenge from the Midhurst winger left both players on the floor, the ball bounced free and the winger got up the quicker and placed the ball into the empty net.
For 5 minutes Midhurst were again on all out attack, with some last ditch tackling preventing any more damage to the score for Rustington.
Rustington slowly found their feet and began to work their way back into the game.
However once more a long through ball was intercepted by the winger but his lobbed effort bounced away from the Rustington goal, but the follow up was excellently saved by Charlie.
Rustington had a John Beaney free kick neatly tipped over the bar, Before Charlie needed to again be at his best to make a full length save from the Midhurst wingers shot, after he had cut inside onto his right foot.
A late Rustington free kick found its way to James Bennett at the far post, who took a touch, and seemed to be pushed in the back – it looked a reckless challenge and wasn’t needed to be honest, but the referee waved away the penalty shouts.
Finally In the dying minutes a Rustington corner was volleyed over by Steve Kirkham 6 yards out after a flick on from Jack Corbett.
“I thought we showed great character today – A month ago we would have lost this game, and that shows how far we have come. We dug deep and battled it out. I think a draw was a fair result. We controlled the first half, and they controlled the second”.
“They are a danger going forward and I thought we defended excellently as a team. However we showed we too are a danger. We have a had a good run of results lately, we still have a lot to do, but the lads are working hard and playing with confidence - we are determined to climb the table and prove to people we aren’t a bad side at all, we just had a bad start to the season .”
"We now have a tough game on Tuesday night – but we go there with nothing to lose. Littlehampton are the best side in the division. People aren’t expected us to win, but we will go there and give it our best.”