The 2003/4 FA Trophy winners moved into the first round proper after a pulsating tie at Dales Lane which saw them come from two goals behind to win 4-3.
The game started slowly until Rushall’s former Pitmen striker Andre Landell hit the bar in the eighth minute before Hednesford responded when a Chris Clements free kick was headed onto the roof of the net and soon after another Clements free kick was headed into Jake Weaver’s arms by Ben Bailey. The home side then came into the game more with Landell and Sam Mantom both shooting over and Landell forcing a save from Tiernan Brooks. In the 21st minute Rushall took the lead, Landell finishing Will Shorrock’s cross from the left but Hednesford equalised soon after when Samir Nabi turned in a flick on from Todd Parker’s corner. As half time approached, Brooks saved from Sharrock and Leroy Lita was denied by Weaver.
Rushall started the second half in the ascendency and on 48 minutes Shorrock restored their lead with a close range finish. Three minutes later it was 3-1, Alex Fletcher with a good strike from outside the box. Almost immediately Hednesford replaced Nabi with Nesbitt and the change worked instantly when Joe Cuff’s cross was laid off by Nesbitt, Lita made space with an intelligent dummy and Adam Livingstone stroked the ball past Weaver. In the 65th minute it was all square when Cuff’s shot was parried by Weaver and Ryan Nesbitt was quickest to react and made it 3-3.
It was end to end stuff now, Cuff was denied by Weaver and Jourdain Masidi shot over for The Pics. Cuff’s shot was again saved by Weaver and he also saw his volley go over the bar. Brooks was then called into action, saving from Mantom before the decisive winning goal came in the 88th minute. Lewis Ison received the ball on the right, cut inside and found the far corner of the net via bar and post with his left foot. The sign went up for six minutes of added on time which ended up as eight due to a Rushall injury and Brooks again kept his team in front with a magnificent save from Liam Daly before the referee brought an end to proceedings.
After the game Manager Steve Burr said “Our comeback in the second half was magnificent after not playing well in the first half. The lads showed a lot of character today and our finishing was excellent”.
RUSHALL OLYMPIC: Weaver, Green, Mitchell, Thorley, Brown, Whittall, Shorrock, Fletcher, Landell, Mantom (Capt), Masidi. SUBS: Forrester, Daly (for Whittall), Cameron (for Sharrock), Campbell, Coyle (for Landell).
HEDNESFORD TOWN: Brooks, Ison, Portman, Bailey (Capt), Lowe, Clements, Cuff, Parker, Lita, Nabi, Livingstone. SUBS: Riley, Nesbitt (for Nabi), Hartley, Morley, Clayton.
Man of the Match: Tiernan Brooks.
Report by Chris Southall