This Southern Counties East Premier Division tie was played out on a warm August evening at Jockey Farm Stadium, home of Rusthall FC.
The Jockey Farm Stadium is on the edge of Rusthall, down a narrow country road and has a large amount of free car parking spaces. The ground has refreshment stands, a nice clubhouse, and a reasonably sized covered seating stand and smaller bench stands. There was a good atmosphere in the ground, as the Rusthall fans sang throughout the game behind the goal. The crowd of 250 for a midweek game, reflects how popular football in the SCEFL has become.
Both Rusthall and Holmesdale had started the campaign disappointingly in their first game. The SCEFL league table showed them at the bottom of the table and both clubs have aspirations to get into the top half this year.
Holmesdale had the best of the early action and on 12 minutes a shot from 20 yards out forced a fine save from the Rusthall keeper. In the 20th minute the keeper came out well to stop a challenge from the Holmesdale number 9 when he was through on goal. On 25 minutes Rusthall gave away a free kick which Holmesdale almost converted with the attempt going narrowly over. Rusthall had a few chances with most of their creativity coming from their number 11, Powell-Downey, however, they always looked more likely to concede first.
On 40 minutes the game burst into life. First the Holmesdale number 9 went through on goal only to miss when it seemed easier to open the scoring. Then as the ball moved towards the Rusthall forward line, a really bad challenge by the Holmesdale defence led to a melee, which the referee did well to break up with early intervention.
This incident seemed to ignite the game and just a minute later, the Holmesdale number 10, who looked sharp throughout the half went down the left and created a chance for their number 7 who squared it for the number 8, Rory Ward, to score.
After the break Rusthall came out fighting with Powell-Downey forcing a good save from the Holmesdale keeper immediately from kick-off.
Then on 50 minutes Holmesdale launched the ball into the box and Rusthall’s defenders failed to clear allowing Jordan Eels to smash it into the roof of the net from close range to make it 0-2.
A minute later and it was 0-3. with a goal from Jamie Rawsthorne, as it looked as if the Rusthall defence was falling apart.
After a short period where Rusthall appeared to be coming back into the game, Holmesdale’s Nathan Palmer finished well at the far post to make it 0-4.
As the game moved into the last ten minutes, Rusthall rallied and their tenacity at last won them a penalty. Luke Adams converted the chance clinically to make it 1-4. Then with minutes left the number 10, Ikpeme, made it 2-4.
The game was exciting to the end with Rusthall missing a chance in the last minute when the Holmesdale keeper saved in a one on one challenge.
This was an entertaining game for the Holmesdale fans and the neutrals, but the 9 goals conceded by Rusthall in their opening two games will be concerning. They will be working hard to shore up their leaky defence and the manager kept them out on the pitch for ten minutes at the final whistle. Holmesdale will be happy with a strong away win and again the SCEFL gave us a high scoring and entertaining match.