Greenways 1-2 Rusthall - To come here and beat them is massive for us, says promotion chasing Rusthall manager Jim Anderson

Monday 23rd September 2019
Greenways 1 – 2 Rusthall
Location Cobdown Sports & Social Club, Station Road, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent ME20 6AU
Kickoff 23/09/2019 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Monday 23 September 2019
Stephen McCartney reports from Cobdown

RUSTHALL manager Jim Anderson says his side will be aiming to finish as high as they can after coming away from Greenways with the three points to keep their promotion push on track.

Anderson made five changes to his side that were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Lewisham Borough at the weekend.

Both Greenways and Rusthall went into this game with eight points on the board from five league outings but it was the Rustics that climbed into fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table, while Greenways remain in ninth-place.

Greenways took a lead just before the half-hour mark through a drilled 30-yard free-kick from striker Lewis Wood, not to be confused with the now retired former Cray Wanderers player, whom scored his sixth goal of the season.

Rusthall were a more dominant force during the second half and Croydon-based winger Reuel Powell-Downey scored twice in the space of 235 seconds to take his goalscoring tally for the season to eight goals.

Rusthall striker Luke Adams had a penalty saved by former team-mate Josh Kleman.

“Great result for us. That’s four points in three days,” said Anderson after celebrating winning their first league game on the road.

“We played a really strong Lewisham Borough side at home on Saturday and probably a point was a fair result on the day. I expect them to be up there or three abouts come the end of the season.

“Today, Greenways are a really good side at home but I felt we controlled the game from start to finish.  They had one of my ex-players Lewis Wood, he’s had the free-kick and the conditions, the wind, whatever you want to call it, it’s helped him out and it’s gone in. It’s a good strike by him but I thought we thoroughly deserved the win today.”

Considering Rob Jeffery’s side haven’t played since their 4-4 home draw against Croydon on Saturday 7 September, this was an entertaining game to watch.

Greenways assistant manager Luke Turner said: “Disappointing evening for the chaps. We came here with confidence. We’ve been on a good run so we were hoping to get three points. We were at home but unfortunately it wasn’t to be tonight. We were happy to take the lead in the first half but they came out really strong in the second half and got the lead and we couldn’t get back into it.”

Rusthall started the game on the front foot by creating their first opening after 246 seconds.

Set-piece specialist Tommy Lawrence swept a free-kick from 45-yards out towards the edge of the penalty area and Powell-Downey’s flick from the edge of the penalty area was comfortably gathered by Kleman.

Rusthall centre-half Robbie Bissett hit a long ball over the top of the Greenways defence from the half-way line to get in behind left-back Ross Penrose but winger Louis Clarke swept his left-footed shot flashing past the right-hand post from 16-yards.

Greenways almost grabbed a rather lucky opening goal in the tenth minute when Wood was released down the right channel and his cross clipped the top of the near post as Rusthall keeper Callum Hampson attempted to push the ball behind while stepping to his left.

Turner said: “A great strike from him. He strikes the ball really well as you saw later on in the game.  With an angle like that I didn’t think he had any chance to hit the post from there. It was great work from him.”

“I’m hoping Callum in goal knew it was going to hit the post and wasn’t going to expect it to go in? He didn’t seem like he was panicking a little too much,” added Anderson.

Rusthall were to be denied the lead in the 14th minute, courtesy of good goalkeeping from Kleman and some composed defending from Greenways’ right-back Adam Cooper.

Charlie Clover played a sublime through ball to split open the Greenways defence to put Powell-Downey in and the keeper rushed out to make a vital block.

The Rusthall winger had a second bite of the cherry and stroked his shot towards the bottom near corner but Cooper calmly trapped the ball inside the six-yard box before playing the ball out from the back.

“I thought in the first half we tried to stretch the play. We rely on Reuel Powell-Downey and Louis Clarke, who are dangerous in behind but they’re just not out-and-out wingers that run onto the ball,” explained Anderson.

“They like to get it into their feet as well so we tried to stretch the play at the start.  It allowed us to play into space in behind them. We felt they had a high line and Reuel got in and maybe could’ve done better but I’d say probably the keeper done really well with the save.”

Turner added: “Adam Cooper reads the game really well, he’s a consistent performer for us, just summed it up really being in the right place at the right time and showing the composure to play out, that’s how we want to play.”

Lawrence pinged a 40-yard diagonal pass over the top of Cooper to find Adams, who cut inside and onto his right-boot before stroking a rather speculative drive from 35-yards, which was comfortably saved by the Greenways stopper.

Greenways missed a glorious chance to snatch the lead in the 21st minute.

Josh White floated in a deep free-kick from the right which precisely found an unmarked Ryan Perkin at the far post but the central midfielder swept his right-footed shot past the foot of the left-hand post from six-yards out.

Turner said: “Again, a great chance. It probably didn’t sit down right for him at the right time at the right moment. Unfortunately, he just dragged it!”

Anderson added: “Obviously it’s a chance but I felt in the first half our actual shape across the pitch, our possession and stuff like that, I didn’t feel they were threatening us too much even though we came in at half-time 1-0 down.”

The game was played on a wet Monday night and the ball zipped off the artificial pitch and that certainly helped with Greenways taking the lead with 26 minutes and 32 seconds on the clock.

Wood drilled his right-footed free-kick around the wall and keeper Callum Hampson went down low to his left but allowed the ball to bounce underneath him, hitting his left arm on its way before looping high into the net.

“He’s got a good strike on him,” said Turner.

“He’s a young lad and he’s shown that so many times this season so I have no issues with him having a shot from there, especially on a night like tonight with a slippery surface. You never know what’s going to happen and he’s got his just rewards for it.

“He’s had a good start so far. It’s really good for a youngster to get a bit of confidence in him to get the goals, shows what he can do and he’s getting confidence to go on week-in-week-out.”

Anderson added: “I thought it went through my wall as well but I was told by my players at half-time that it went around the wall so I was having a go at quite a few players thinking it went through the wall! It’s gone through and under Callum. He’s unfortunate but it’s a great strike by Woody and it’s one of those things, unfortunately.”

Hampson then made a comfortable save just 159 seconds later when Perkin floated a 20-yard cross towards a similar position as the goal and Wood chested the ball before hitting a right-footed half-volley, a daisy-cutter, which was comfortably saved by Hampson.

Ten minutes before the break and Rusthall produced a clever corner routine which lacked the desired finish.

Lawrence played the ball short into the box to Adams, who cut the ball back towards holding midfielder Eddie Jones, who sliced a poor shot harmlessly wide of the right-hand post from inside the D.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on and it didn’t pay off today but we’ll try it again. I’ve just given away all of my secrets but that’s absolutely fine,” added Anderson.

Both sides then flashed long-range drives inches past the foot of the post as Arun Suman touched a free-kick inside to Wood, who drilled his right-footed drive just wide, while at the other end, Lawrence hit an angled drive which suffered similar fate as Greenways went in at the break with a slender lead.

Turner said: “We were all reasonably happy with how we were performing. The lads knew they had more to give, just try to get the defenders and midfielders a bit higher, just to try to counteract some of their play through the middle. We were confident that we could go on and get the three points and just told them to step up what they were doing.”

Anderson added: “At half-time, 1-0 down I was kind of happy. The boys were beating themselves up a little bit but if the goal doesn’t go in, I felt we was comfortable and we were handling the conditions.

“It’s always tricky when you play on a 3G pitch. We like to get the ball down and play and the surface allows you to play but with the conditions the ball travels a little bit quicker.

“I said be patient, believe, be more aggressive in the second half and we can go and win this game if we believe, if we play as a team.

“I’ve got a good group in that changing room. They’re young but we’ve got some experienced players’ in there but they’re learning each week.  There’s young leaders in there and they enjoy playing with each other.”

Greenways kicked off the second half and central midfielder Suman tried to catch Hampson out after trying to score from the centre-spot but the Rusthall keeper made a comfortable catch after only five seconds.

Rusthall then started to boss proceedings and were the better side for a large chunk of the second half.

Centre-half Ryan Styles launched a long ball out from defence which released Powell-Downey charging down the left. He easily shrugged past Greenways centre-half Camen Bhandal, reached the by-line to whip in a cross, which sailed over the keeper and skimmed the top of the crossbar after four minutes and eight seconds.

Anderson said: “Similar to Woody’s I suppose. I don’t know if their keeper knew it was going to hit the woodwork or not but it’s a cross-shot, I suppose that’s what they call it. I don’t know whether he’s meant it or not or whether he’s gone to cross it but it’s a chance I suppose.

“I felt Reuel came alive in the second half. I felt that Charlie Clover, in the 10 role came alive and was creative. Luke Adams was a bit quiet today up front but he was carrying a little injury and he’s played on that so he’s done well today.”

Turner added: “Fair play to them, they must’ve had a rocket at half-time because they came out straight at us and upped their game straight away and we were under the cosh right from the beginning!

“I mean, we all know football is a game of inches at times and luckily for us that one went the right way for us.”

Lawrence crossed the ball into the Greenways box and Powell-Downey took too many touches and the ball came out to Clover, who stroked a left-footed shot on the turn from inside the D, which was gathered at the second attempt by Kleman.

“With the conditions and stuff like that, at half-time we said to them to try to test the keeper as much as possible, get shots away and follow the rebounds in,” added Anderson.

Clover then released the impressive Powell-Downey down the right and his angled drive kissed the wet turf and was held by Kleman, low to his right.

Dominant Rusthall deservedly equalised with 11 minutes and 2 seconds on the clock.

Yet again, Styles launched a 60-yard clearance out of defence which sailed over Josh Taylor and put Powell-Downey in on goal and as the keeper rushed off his line, the winger dinked his shot past him into an empty net from 16-yards.

“He’s cut across the back line, broke lines really well, got through. The boys is playing with confidence at the minute. He’s enjoying his football and he finished it really well,” said Anderson.

Turner added: “I think unfortunately Josh Taylor tried to play a high line but got caught out and they got in behind, showed great pace and great composure to finish off.”

Greenways winger Simon Walton tried to score with a first time drive from 30-yards, which brought a comfortable save from the Rusthall keeper.

Rusthall claimed the victory by scoring their second of the night with 15 minutes and 7 seconds on the clock.

Lawrence’s free-kick delivery from the right was of high quality and he floated in a free-kick into the corridor of uncertainty and Kleman was stuck in too minds whether to stick or twist.  He stayed on his line and Powell-Downey buried his downward header past the keeper from eight-yards.

“Tommy’s dead ball deliveries are absolutely quality since he’s been to the club and it’s always a threat when he’s delivering a ball,” said Anderson.

“Reuel popped up today with the winner. That’s unlike Reuel to be fair to score with his head but he will take whatever comes!”

Turner added: “It was a great delivery from the lad from that sort of area and it put us under danger. It’s always disappointing to concede from set-pieces because it’s a part of a game where you’re evenly matched so it’s always disappointing.  A delivery like that is just crying out to be finished and that’s what the lad did.”

It was a pitch to shoot from distance and Rusthall centre-half Robbie Bissett scuffed his weak right-footed free-kick towards goal from 25-yards, which was comfortably saved low down by the busy Greenways keeper.

Rusthall had a glorious chance to win the game after referee Luke Sidaway pointed to the spot after Bhandal tripped Clover inside the box after Powell-Downey cut into the box.

Six-goal striker Adams stepped up and smashed his right-footed penalty just left of centre but Kleman moved to his right to make the save.

“So we had a little bit of a Chelsea-Manchester United moment that Reuel wanted to take it and Luke Adams is my penalty taker so I demanded that we got the job done and Luke took it,” said Anderson.

“Luke is friends with their goalkeeper so I believe he knew where he was going to put it so that’s why Luke didn’t fancy it but he stepped up and took it and the keeper makes a good save.

“It’s just one of those things.  We’ve managed to get the result we wanted in the end.  Reuel was disappointed but we’re a team in there so that’s what happens.”

Turner added: “From where I was it looked like a foul in the build-up that delayed Camen playing the ball but it wasn’t given.  The game has played on, the fouls been given, right decision but Josh Kleman made a great save.

“He always pulls off penalty saves, probably knew where Lee was going through previous training sessions. He used to play for us so I was happy with it because over the years he definitely pulled off some big penalty saves for us.”

The final exchanges was rather fiery with challenges flying in but Greenways lacked the quality needed to get past an outstanding centre-half pairing of Styles and Bissett.

“They are playing really well this season. I’ve got another young lad called Jake Hampson who’s dying to get a chance but they’re playing really well.  They’re both 20-years-old, both doing tremendously well this season,” added Anderson.

“We didn’t really go gung-ho but they deserved to see it out, they dealt with our threats towards the end really well,” admitted Turner.

Greenways travel to fourth-placed Lewisham Borough on Saturday, while Rusthall host tenth-placed Meridian VP.

FC Elmstead remain at the summit with 20 points from eight games with Rochester United (15 points from seven games); Croydon (13 points from seven games) and Lewisham Borough (13 points from seven games) occupying the four promotion places.

Rusthall are waiting in fifth-place with 11 points from six games, Kennington have 10 points from six, Holmesdale have banked nine points from six games, Stansfeld sit in eighth-place with eight points from seven, followed by Greenways.

“It’s going to be another tough game,” warned Turner of their trip to Ladywell Arena.

“This league is ultra-competitive, everyone’s fighting for those top spots and week-on-week it’s tough.  As you’ve seen from the results already so far this season across the league that anyone can beat anyone on any day.

“It’s going to be a tough trip for us. I’ve said to the boys afterwards, dust yourselves off, we go training on Thursday, work on some bits and we’ll go again on Saturday but it’s going to be another tough game but that’s what we’re here for.”

Anderson added:  “To come here and beat them is massive for us and we’re over the moon.

“Meridian is going to be a tough game. You can’t underestimate any team in this league. We’ll hopefully have a big crowd behind us and hopefully go for a win.  They’re going to be a good side. I know they’ve just signed Trey Small back from Punjab.

“It’s surprising how many teams in this league have got so-called really big players playing for them. It comes down to the fact that the four places are available.  I’ve noticed there’s a lot players that have dropped down a level and are playing at this level. It is a good level. You saw today both teams tried to play football. It’s a lovely surface to play football and we’ve been lucky enough to get the win.

“Top four? That’s the aim. I’d love to. That’s the aim. I’ll be honest with you, we’re going to aim as highest as we can. It’s a long season ahead. The plan is to keep this group of boys together for the whole season and I truly believe we can do that. They believe in each other and they enjoy their football and they love the club.”

Greenways: Josh Kleman, Adam Cooper, Ross Penrose, Oscar Saxton, Camen Bhandal, Josh Taylor, Josh White (Dan Lear 80), Ryan Perkin (Theo White 72), Lewis Wood (Robb Henderson 68), Arun Suman, Simon Walton.
Subs: Tom Reardon, James Austin

Goal: Lewis Wood 27

Booked: Josh Taylor 64

Rusthall: Callum Hampson, Louis Anderson, Calum Gallie, Eddie Jonas (Paul Butler 83), Ryan Styles, Robbie Bissett, Louis Clarke (Stephen Camacho 75), Tommy Lawrence, Luke Adams, Charlie Clover (Lorenzo Cuozzo 88), Reuel Powell-Downey.
Subs: Bradley Large, Ben Boodle

Goals: Reuel Powell-Downey 57, 61

Booked: Tommy Lawrence 78, Stephen Camacho 90, Paul Butler 90

Attendance: 74
Referee: Mr Luke Sidaway (Canterbury)
Assistants: Mr Andy Butler (Maidstone) & Mr Bartosz Chmelecki (Ashford)