Sheffield FC 2 Rushall Olympic 3
Prior to the match, Sheffield FC’s poor form did not stop them from being 17 points clear off the relegation zone.
And, if results went their way, Rushall Olympic had the opportunity to move into the play-off places.
Early pressure built
It was Rushall Olympic who started the match positively, when former Kidderminster Harriers striker Matt Lewis’ chip went over the bar within the first couple of minutes.
Christian Dacres’ tame shot from just outside the penalty area was comfortably saved by ex-Chesterfield goalkeeper Dan Whatsize, a minute later, after some good work from Lewis and Ahmed Obeng.
Danny Lennon’s sliding shot, meanwhile, just went wide of the right-hand post in the sixth minute.
The away side continued their early pressure, as Sheffield FC struggled to contain their attacks, and it came as no surprise when Callum Harrison brought down Lewis just outside the penalty area.
The awarded free-kick, taken by Grant Beckett, was smartly turned away by Whatsize and it was the resulting corner that led to the game’s first goal.
Nick Amos headed in Danny Ashton’s whipped ball past Whatsize to give the away side a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
The Pics should have doubled their lead a minute later, as Whatsize’s mistimed headed clearance fell into the path of a racing Lennon who managed to miss an open goal in the penalty area.
The former Oxford City striker nearly made amends immediately after, as he linked up well with Beckett, but Lennon’s shot went inches wide.
It was not meant to be third time lucky for Lennon as, after being set-up by Dacres in the 19th minute, his shot was parried away by Whatsize onto the post.
Their opponents soon went onto the counter-attack, as Chris Adam’s through-ball reached Joel Purkiss and his shot also hit the post.
The home side should have been two goals down, though, when Obeng managed to find space on the flanks.
Whatsize turned his shot away and Lennon outpaced Jack Smith to tap in the rebound, only for the striker to be caught offside.
A first half equaliser
Sheffield FC slowly started to get back into the game, as Smith’s dangerous set-pieces were causing problems and Purkiss forced Curtis Gemmell to make two comfortable saves.
Steve Woolley’s shot, in the 35th minute, went wide of Gemmell’s right-hand post, after some good work from Harrison and Cyrus Lewis.
They were soon rewarded for some promising play, when Gemmell brought down Adam on the edge of the penalty area.
Adam then shocked the visitors by curling in a free-kick, from a difficult angle, past the stranded Gemmell to give the home side an equaliser in the 36th minute.
Woolley later managed to find James Gregory’s pass, on the brink of half-time, but he could not find the space to squeeze a shot past Gemmell.
Second half goals
The second half saw some early chances, as Purkiss and Lewis wasted opportunities to put both sides in front.
It was the visitors who regained their one-goal advantage when former Sheffield Wednesday defender Jamie Hadfield connected with Obeng in the penalty area, after 61 minutes.
Lewis converted the penalty after sending Whatsize the wrong way and they extended their lead, in the 64th minute, when Ashton poked in Obeng’s defence-splitting pass from close range.
Sheffield FC tried to get back into the game and they were unlucky when Jonah Gosling’s cross was punched away by Gemmell, and the rebound from Andy Gascoigne forced a point-blank save from the former Birmingham City goalkeeper.
Whatsize also made an excellent save from Lewis’ free-kick and Ashton later flicked Anthony Maguire’s cross wide.
The home side managed to score a consolation goal, with four minutes to spare, when substitute Ant Lynam’s free kick was deflected off Ashton’s ankle and went past Gemmell.
Obeng’s lob went over the bar in the 89th minute but, despite an injury-time onslaught from Sheffield FC’s attackers, Rushall Olympic held on to secure a valuable three points to keep their promotion bid alive.
Sheffield FC: Whatsize, J. Smith, Davis, Lewis, Hadfield, Harrison (Gosling, 62), Gregory, Gascoigne, Purkiss (Lynam, 65), Adam, Woolley (O’Brien, 83)
Goalscorers: Adam (35), Ashton (86, Own Goal)
Rushall Olympic: Gemmell, Spittle, Amos, A. Smith, Ashton, Beckett, Davies, Blythe, Lewis, Obeng, Lennon (Maguire, 65)
Goalscorers: Amos (13), Lewis (61), Ashton (64)
This match report was published by JUS News in March 2011.