Football: Rusthall are relegated but keep up high hopes

Football: Rusthall are relegated but keep up high hopes
BRIGHT PROSPECT: Raul Powell-Downing shows pace and power for Rusthall

RUSTHALL’S relegation from the Southern Counties East League Premier Division was confirmed on a disappointing day against their rivals for the drop, Hollands & Blair.

The pitch was bumpy and the hosts were a large, physical side whose main tactic was goal-kicks that reached the Rusthall penalty area.

Hollands & Blair scored after two minutes. The ball was played down Rusthall’s left and Justin Ascheri scored from the ensuing cross.

After 20 minutes Rusthall got into the game.  From a corner Ryan Styles fired a shot just wide and then Raul Powell-Downey saw an attempt go just over the bar. Rusthall’s Aaron McGuigan had to be alert to tip over a dipping shot.

Hollands & Blair were given a free kick just outside the Rusthall penalty area and Steve Radcliff put it over the wall and into the top corner, making it 2-0 at half-time.

Rusthall came out ready to compete in the second half and were soon awarded a penalty.

However, Steph Harper, the regular penalty taker, had gone off injured just before half-time and the penalty kick was missed.

Rusthall dominated play in the second half and as they pushed forward, Hollands & Blair broke away and Jack Simon scored a third.

Chances still came Rusthall’s way. Charlie Clover missed out in a one-on-one with the keeper.

With Punjab winning at AFC Croydon, Rusthall were confirmed in second-to-bottom place, 10 points adrift of Punjab and Hollands & Blair.

On Easter Monday, Rusthall went down 1-0 at home to Glebe with former Tunbridge Wells player Jack Harris heading in the winner.

Rusthall’s chairman Joe Croker said: “We have a well-respected manager in Jimmy Anderson who has built a young team which, if starting now, would comfortably stay in this division.

“Rusthall is a Premier Division club, and relegation is merely a setback to establishing outselves there.”

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