Rusthall striker Andy Constable - 327 goals and counting: No one would have thought promotion was possible at the start of the season after last year
RUSTHALL striker Andy Constable says it’s been a pleasure being a part of the club’s promotion push.
Joint-managers Steve Ashmore and Steve Sands have guided the club to the summit of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division and are fighting tooth and nail with Glebe for the league title.
Constable, 38, scored two goals and played a part in Dan Mitchell’s strike as Rusthall beat FC Elmstead 3-1 at Jockey Farm yesterday, which keeps them five points clear of Glebe, but the Chislehurst based side do have four games in hand.
“I thought we deserved it on the second half performance,” said Constable, who was substituted after 75 minutes.
“The first half performance was poor by our standards. I don’t think we worked hard enough, which was disappointing which is the bare minimum we give and our quality let us down at times.
“We got a bit of a rollicking at half-time, which was rightly deserved. I think we came out second half and we showed what we was all about and it turned out to be a comfortable three points in the end.”
Constable headed in Ian Parson’s free-kick to give the Rustics a 35th minute lead, but Elmstead levelled on the stroke of half-time through Aaron Guard’s 28-yard drive, which Rusthall keeper Sean Ingleson helped in to sail into the top far corner.
Constable then latched onto John Phillips pace and outpaced the Elmstead defence, despite having his shirt pulled, to roll his shot past Dan Teeley into the bottom far corner, before sweeping the ball out wide to Parsons, whose low cross was tucked home by Dan Mitchell to wrap up the points in the 67th minute.
“We normally have Adam Davies take up the near post but he was out injured so I took on that role today and we had a couple of corners trying to hit that area and we just hit the first man which was a bit disappointing,” said Constable.
“The delivery from that free-kick was spot on and I just got a little glance on it and it looped over the keeper, so I was happy with that. I’ve had a few of those over the years. It was a good goal, a good ball, kind of off the training ground.”
Reflecting on his second goal of the game, Constable said: “It was a decent bit of football there. I got my body the right side of the defender, possibly had my shirt pulled and I had the strength to hold him off because I was the right side. The keeper’s positioning was a bit suspicious, he just left his left side open so I just rolled it into the corner so I was happy with that one as well.”
Constable was then asked his personal thoughts on the difference between the Southern Counties East Football League Premier and First Division.
“That’s a very good question,” said Constable, who has played for Bromley, Whitstable Town, Sevenoaks Town, Tunbridge Wells, Chatham Town, Thamesmead Town, Erith & Belvedere, Phoenix Sports, Sheppey United and Holmesdale.
“I think you probably get teams that are a bit more organised at Prem level. You get younger players perhaps who are coming through that are going to go further in the game at Prem level and also you get a lot of Ryman quality players that drop down to that level so it has got stronger. You’ve got Sevenoaks, Crowborough, Ashford, they’re big sides and they’re all trying to get Ryman football, so that’s the difference.
“But I think at this level, like I had last year at Sheppey, you play against teams that are trying to find their way at Step Six football, rather than established teams at Step Five and some teams just haven’t got that quality and perhaps lack the organisation as some of the Prem teams so I’d say that’s probably the biggest difference. If you’ve got a bit of intelligence and a bit of experience that can go a long way at this level, whereas you still need the fitness more at Step Five. I’d say that’s the biggest thing.”
Rusthall lead the way on 64 points from their 27 games (losing once in the league) and have nine games left to play. Glebe remain second in the other promotion place with 59 points from 23 games after thrashing struggling Gravesham Borough 4-0 yesterday.
Kent Football United are in third-place with 56 points from 26 games, while K Sports follow on 56 points from 25 games.
“It’s been unbelievable really. The game we lost (2-1 at home to Eltham Palace) we were terrible,” admitted Constable.
“We know Glebe have got games in hand on us, five points behind. We know they’re favourties, we’ll just keep ticking off the games and all we can do is to try to win games of football with nine games left.
“We still have got to go to Sutton Athletic (25 March) and K Sports (1 April) so they’re all big games and you know in a title race anything can happen, so we just need to keep ticking them off and see where that leaves us at the end of the season.
“It’s going to be an exciting end to the season, we’re all looking forward to it.
“The squad that we’ve got at this level is a very good squad, a lot of experience and we’re ready to give all we can to try to get promotion. That’s got to be the target. No one would have thought it was possible at the start of the season after last year but the two Steve’s have come in and brought a whole new squad with them and have turned the club around and it’s been a pleasure to be a part of it.”
Constable has played non-league football for 20 years and keeps a spreadsheet on his career goalscoring totals.
He said: “The two (against FC Elmstead) takes it up to 327, since I started at Bromley. I only had two for them believe it or not, two in two years. It’s important to have those stats. I don’t know how many games.
“To score that number of goals on a personal level has been brilliant. The only thing I don’t know is the number of games. It’s probably 500-600, maybe a bit more than that. It’s been good. It scares a hell out of me not playing anymore, but it comes to all of us, I guess.”
When asked about his future and turning his hand to management or coaching, Constable said: “I do a bit of coaching with my son’s team and I do enjoy that. I’ve had a few options looking at doing that already but I still feel I can offer something as a player, particularly now that Step Six has become a better organised league, it’s a bit more professional so to speak.
“I’d like to think I can have another season playing and then look at that and it all depends what happens with the club being promoted and how that sits with how much football I’d get – but it’s something that I’ll look into. I can’t think of anything worse than not having football on a Saturday.”
Rusthall are at home to fifth-from-bottom side Sporting Club Thamesmead next Saturday, 25 February (15:00), before travelling to Lewisham Borough on Saturday 4 March (15:00), before Glebe arrive at Jockey Farm on Wednesday 4 March (19:45), which is the club’s biggest game in its history, with a crowd of over 200 expected at the ground in Nellington Road.
Visit Rusthall’s website: www.rusthallfc.com