Rustington 1-3 Worthing Utd
December 4, 2011 - Sussex County League, Division 2
An early kick off Tuesday night saw third placed Worthing United take on the Jekyll and Hyde Rustington in a game where maximum points were required to keep the Worthing side on course for promotion. With players arriving at all sorts of times due to the ridiculous kick off situation United brought Julian Curnow back into the defence, with Mitchell Hand replacing Adam Barnard at left back and Rayner and Corkill returned in midfield to bolster a squad that had been thin over the last few weeks. The pitch as is to be expected at this time of year was patchy and bobbly and very hard and was always going to make a passing game even harder.
United started slowly again as has been the case for the last few weeks and Rustington with little to play for were playing with a relaxed style that helped their football. United looking a little off the pace in midfield and in defence were, like Saturday looking a little cautious and nervy and with the game quite stretched Rustington with their forward pair of pace and height were dragging the back four out of position and with the midfield looking a little overrun it was a disjointed United for the opening 25 minutes. However United had the best chance to go ahead when Boutwood burst through on goal and with the keeper to beat hit a shot that was just a little too tame to really test the young stopper. Rustington took the lead when a combination of good play from the Rustington attackers and terrible defending from United resulted in a goal at the far post. Rustington broke down the United left and after evading a Hand tackle, Curnow gambled on pinching the ball and failed and the Rustington cross evaded everyone in the box and fell to one of two unmarked players at the back post for them and it was smashed home. United finally pulled themselves together and a tactical change meant they got more of a handle on the game and slowly began to dominate. The United midfield began to exert some control and Oatway back in a more familiar position was finding some space and when the ball was won in the Rustington half, Oatway evaded some desperate lunges before slotting Joe Shelley in for a one on one with the keeper and with a calm finish he slotted home for a well deserved equalizer just before half time.
The second half and United came out like a different team with far snappier passes and tackles and far more pressure on the ball all over the pitch. As against Storrington a couple of weeks ago, the introduction of Dave Herbert made the difference. Him and Boutwood up front began to cause some problems for the Rustington defence and with United now for more powerful and dominant in midfield Rustington looked on the ropes. First Boutwood had a one on one which he put wide when he should have done better, and then Oatway also had a one on one where his chip was well saved by the impressive young keeper. Then Stokes had a superb volley saved spectacularly and then his header a minute later went just wide. Finally United took the lead when some lovely interplay involving Rayner, Oatway, Boutwood and Herbert playing triangles through the Rustington half and Herbert’s slide rule pass teed Shelley up for a side footed finish to spark some unusually large celebrations. Rustington were struggling to handle the movement of the United attacking players and with United now pressing higher up the field they were not finding the open spaces of the first half. Although United were in the ascendency at this stage Rustington had a great chance to equalize when a carbon copy of the first Rustington goal left the tall striker free at the back post but this time he could only strike the ball at the crossbar and it fell to safety. United despite playing well knew they were in a game and with 15 minutes to go Rustington went quite route one and delivered from every opportunity but in credit to the United defence now bolstered by Seb Di Paola and Niall O’Hagan they repelled all attacked and then on the counter attack with 5 minutes to go another great move involving Oatway, Boutwood and Herbert left Herbert with a great chance again one on one with the keeper and with a cool head he slotted the ball home to put the game away from Rustington and secure a vital 3 points for United.
Di Paola: “This was a superb win given the circumstances. I really rate Rustington and with the pitch, early kick off and other issues we did really well after a slow start. We showed great character to come from behind and after half time we were excellent. We addressed a few things at half time and to the boys credit they responded well and we could have had 4-5 in the second half. We are looking tired but we also have a tough streak about us now and it was nice to have some options on the bench for the first time in a while. I thought Meehan and Shelley were absolutely brilliant again tonight and also in the second half Oatway, Boutwood and Herbert were electric when on the ball. We still look shaky at the back but it is so hard to be settled when we have to make forced changes. This win will just about secure promotion and it is a credit to everyone that we have done so well from scratch this season. The boys have been brilliant, they are young but are learning a lot and improving all the time and I hope we can keep them together as they have a bright future as a group”.
43 min - Joe Shelley (7/10)
56 min - Joe Shelley (8/10)
87 min - Dave Herbert (8/10)