Football: Last-gasp Rusthall steal spoils in Tunbridge Wells derby

Football: Last-gasp Rusthall steal spoils in Tunbridge Wells derby
NICK OF TIME: Rusthall celebrate Sam Murray’s winner PHOTO: Brendan Kemp

RUSTHALL secured bragging rights in the local derby against Tunbridge Wells, Sam Murray robbing the neighbours with two minutes to spare.

The Rustics are giving themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation after registering their second consecutive win – and only their third of the season – in Southern Counties East League Premier Division.

The rivalry was played out in perfect weather in front of an impressive crowd of over 400.

But the first half was destined to end goalless, with the play littered with mistakes and the teams largely cancelling each other out.

The most likely source of a goal was from Tunbridge Wells sending free kicks into the box for Perry Spackman to attack but the Rusthall defence stood firm.

The Wells had a good chance with a close-range header from a corner but Robbie Bissett cleared off the line.

Rusthall suffered a blow when Louis Clarke had to go off midway through the first half with a pulled hamstring.

At the start of the second half Nodirbek Bobomuradov almost opened the scoring for Rusthall but his shot went inches wide.

The game then changed with Wells exerting pressure and pushing forward and Rusthall looking to exploit the space and counter-attack.

SUNDAY BEST: Rusthall’s Moses Sunday sprints past Lewis Mingle PHOTO: Joe Croker

In the 62nd minute Louis Anderson made room for himself down the Wells right and with not much to aim at, he put the ball into the box.

Charlie Clover, surrounded by Wells defenders, managed to get on the ball and put it into the net – though it may have gone in off Dane Moore for an own goal.

Wells pressed for the equaliser and Rusthall still looked threatening on the break. In the 82nd minute the home side levelled when a good cross into the box was met by Tom Pearson, who headed into the net.

Both sides went searching for the winner and it almost came Rusthall’s way when another misplaced clearance hit Clover but flew to safety.

With time running out in the 88th minute, the ball was played harmlessly into the direction of the Wells goal and keeper Cameron Hall opted to let it run into the penalty box to pick it up.

However, Sam Murray nipped in ahead of the keeper, pushed the ball past him and finished into the empty net for the winner.

While the Wells’ stunning recovery has hit the buffers of late, Rusthall are now a point away from the safety zone behind Hollands & Blair.

Tunbridge Wells entertain Erith Town on Saturday [March 2], while Rusthall are at home to Deal Town [kick-offs 3pm].

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