Hednesford Town had to shuffle the pack moments before kick off at Dales Lane giving Callum King-Harmes an unexpected start after George Cater pulled up with a groin strain during the pre-match warm up.
Former Pitmen player-manager Danny Glover set the level of intensity for the game with a second minute attempt at blocking Andy Wycherley’s clearance. This led to a rather harsh yellow card, setting the tone for a fiercely competitive but good spirited encounter, that perhaps ended with an unwarranted eight bookings.
During the opening half hour of the game the Pitmen enjoyed the greater share of possession, biding their time with patient build up play. Despite this, the best half-chances fell to the Pics with Shaquille Master and Callum Coyle forcing decent saves from Wycherley. On the half hour mark Glover’s goal bound strike took a deflection off one of his own players. The dominant possession paid off for Hednesford in the 39th minute when a great run down the left from Ryan Pryce set up Andre Landell for a clinical finish past Tom Palmer into the right of the net. The games biggest talking point followed a few minutes later as a ball over the top put Simeon Cobourne in a one-on-one with Wycherley, who tipped the ball over the cross bar, however referee Mr Conde felt that the Pitmen ‘keeper had led with a raised knee, awarding a penalty to the home side. After a lengthy wait, as Jack Chambers received treatment on the pitch, Glover dispatched the spot kick to Wycherley’s left hand side.
Sam Griffiths replaced Josh Webb, who had taken a slight knock, for the second half. As both sides fought for a winner, Cobourne whipped a dangerous cross into the Pitmen area, which Glover uncharacteristically headed over in what was possibly the best chance of the game. Regular half chances were being created by both sides as the game flowed from end-to-end. Substitute Rob Hanna produced a lively appearance as the Pitmen tried to find a final ball to unlock the Pics’ defence, Lewis Ison impressively moved into the holding midfield role when Chambers was replaced by Kyle Rowley. In the closing stages the Pitmen withheld a series of corners and long throws from the home side with Wycherley having one more save to make from substitute Owen Parry.
Despite the controversial penalty decision, a draw fairly reflected the balance of the game as the Pitmen remain unbeaten this season. After the game Keenan Meakin-Richards commented; “I was happy with the performance and the way we have adapted due to injuries. It has been a good start to the season, we are undefeated and have eleven points out of fifteen, yet you go in the dressing room now and the lads are gutted. Although I don’t want them buzzing about a draw, I have told them it is a good point.”
Rushall Olympic; Palmer, Green (c), Mitchell, Thorley, Clarke, Whitall, Coyle (Batchelor 64), Moore, Glover, Cobourne (Parry 76), Master (Reid 70). Subs not used; Fitzgerald, Graham.
Hednesford Town; Wycherley, Webb (Griffiths 46), Pryce, Bailey, Ison, Chambers (Rowley 64), King-Harmes (Hanna 53), Parker, Brown, Landell, Lycett. Subs not used Williams.