A disjointed performance by Hednesford Town coupled with a superb showing from ex-Pitman favourite Decio Gomes and Rushall Olympic captain Lucan Spittle meant the holders of the Doodson Cup side were defeated at Dales Lane for the second time this season and must now focus on their promotion campaign.
Smith made four changes from the side who drew with Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday and it showed as new signings Liam Blakeman and Mark Beesley bedded in and new central defensive partnership Ben Bailey and Cheyenne Dunkley found their feet.
Ben Jevons could have opened the scoring for The Pitmen as he broke through and saw his shot saved by Lewis Fenney but Rushall took the lead when Dan Crane slapped a cross to the feet of Richard Blythe who couldn’t miss on thirty minutes.
A superb pass down the left channel by stand-in left back Chris Clements set Andre Landell away who skipped past Spittle and crashed a shot in off the bar to level on thirty-seven minutes to equalise for The Pitmen.
Parity lasted just two minutes as Hednesford allowed Alex Melbourne to pick up a short corner and crash a shot beyond Dan Crane.
Hednesford introduced Nick Wellecomme, Gary Hay and Lewis Suckling into the fray to chase the game in the second period but found Fenny in top form as he acrobatically denied Hay and, in the final minute, goalkeeper Crane saw a header cleared off the line.
The Pitmen supporters won’t remember this as a classic but with Nantwich away on Saturday and league leaders Chester on the horizon there will be considerably more important tests to come.
Fenney, Tolley, Haynes, Gomes, Spittle (c), Dacres, Melbourne (39), Blythe (30) (Forde 88), Adaggio (Wilkes 58), Keenan (Brady 71), Fitzpatrick
Subs Not Used
Crane, Haynes, Blakeman (Wellecomme 78), Dunkley, Bailey, Jevons, Osborne, Clements, Landell (37), Beesley (Hay 55), Durrell (Suckling 68)
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Dacres, Osborne
Star Man – Decio Gomes
Entertainment Rating – 2 Stars
Attendance – 209