This midweek fixture was one I had watched last season, when with both sides struggling early season, at the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League, Premier Division, Holmesdale had left their hosts with a comprehensive 2-4 victory. The match had been entertaining and both sides recovered well from their early positions in the league, to secure mid table respectability by the close of the 2021-22 season.
The SCEFL Premier Division table, coming into the game, for the current season, showed Holmesdale in 16th place, with eleven points from twelve games. Rusthall sat more comfortably in 9th place with seventeen points from their eleven games.
Holmesdale’s manager, Lee Roots, knows that his side need to start scoring goals. With only 10 goals in 10 games this season there needs to be much more created in order for them to kick on and move up the table. Nathaniel Olawole was a welcome addition to the squad, having been missing for the past few games. On my last visit to watch Holmesdale, against Welling Town, his pace had freed him to score the winning goal.
Jimmy Anderson, Rusthall’s manager, however, has relied on goals from Louie Clarke (six goals) and both Louis Anderson and Reuel Powell-Downey (three apiece) this season and with a good run of results could see his side make ground up, on the SCEFL promotion contenders, currently above them.
There was a decent midweek crowd of 141 in attendance to see the game. At kick off on the relatively warm late October evening, there was a a good atmosphere and the home Rusthall fans, as ever, made plenty of noise. I was accompanied for the second week running by my wife, so watched the game from the stand.
The first thirty minutes were dour, with neither side being able to break through. Holmesdale had a chance cleared off the line, but other chances were as rare as hen’s teeth and as the first third of the match came to a close, it looked very much as if the first goal scored might settle this match.
On 30 minutes the deadlock was broken when, from nowhere, Holmesdale’s Fred Obama broke free and clinically lobbed Tommy Taylor, in the Rusthall goal, to put the away side 0-1 up and silence the partisan home crowd.
The second half opened with Rusthall attacking with gusto. In the 55th minute Luke Miller went close with a fiercely driven shot from the edge of the penalty area. Holmesdale however, defended resolutely and as the game moved into its final ten minutes, it looked as though they would leave Jockey Farm with all three points.
In the 85th minute, however, a high cross to the far post, saw Holmesdale’s keeper, James Boughtflower, scrambling in vain to intercept, before the ball was tapped back for Dan Blunn to finish from close range, making the score 1-1.
There was still time in the last five minutes and added time, for some all out pressure from both teams, with penalty claims and great saves from the keepers. However at full time the points were shared with the scores tied at one all. While neither side will be satisfied with the outcome, this was probably a fair result.