Rusthall 1-1 Glebe - Nothing's won or lost yet, we’ll keep fighting until the end, says Rusthall joint-boss Steven Ashmore
Rusthall 1 – 1 Glebe
|Location||Jockey Farm Stadium, Nellington Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SH|
RUSTHALL 1-1 GLEBE
Southern Counties East Football League First Division
Wednesday 22nd March 2017
Stephen McCartney reports from Jockey Farm Stadium
GLEBE manager Adam Woodward defended the way his workmanlike side played during this cagey top-of-the-table clash.
A record Rusthall league crowd of 268 flocked through the turnstiles at Jockey Farm to see the top two sides in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division play out a disappointing stalemate.
League leaders Rusthall went into the game with back-to-back defeats to Phoenix Sports Reserves and Sutton Athletic, while Chislehurst-based Glebe arrived on the outskirts of Tunbridge Wells on a seven match unbeaten run.
Glebe drew first blood when former Queens Park Rangers winger Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon, 19, slotted in his ninth goal of the season.
Rusthall grabbed an equaliser with their only shot on target during the first half when striker Dan Mitchell scored his seventh goal of the season with a downward header.
Glebe striker Aaron Jeffery smashed a second half penalty against the bar, while visiting goalkeeper Adam Molloy was shown a straight red card for dissent following the final whistle.
Rusthall joint-manager Steven Ashmore said: “Very pleased with the performance. We probably felt we might’ve done enough to nick it but they have missed the penalty so a draw isn’t a bad result.
“It’s just pleasing to see how we attacked constantly. We didn’t sit back or drop back, the tempo was good, a lot better than it has been for the past two games, the loss here to Phoenix and away at Sutton, so overall, very pleased.
“It’s a step in the right direction to finish the season. We’ve got some huge games coming up with K Sports chasing us. It sets the tone and the benchmark for our last four games.”
When asked whether the league title was lost tonight with Glebe a point behind but with four games in hand, Ashmore replied: “No! Never lost! These still have a lot of games to go, so I know Adam will have his boys fighting for every game, same as we will. Nothings won or lost just yet.
“Obviously they’re in the driving seat in terms of where they can finish when they catch up in games. It’s still nice for us to have those points on the board. Certainly nothings won or lost yet, we’ll keep fighting until the end.”
Glebe boss Woodward, who like Ashmore is in his first season in charge of his club, said: “I would have taken a point before the game and I would probably have taken a point halfway through it as well.
“I’m happy we’ve got a point. We didn’t play very well if I’m honest. We did defend well tonight. We switched off once but we missed the penalty as well.
“We were put under a bit of attack tonight and we showed a bit of character conceding just before half-time but a point, I would have taken at the start of the game and I will take it now.”
Glebe remain unbeaten on their travels in the league and have only conceded 18 league goals in 28 league outings.
When asked about the pitch, Woodward replied: “Very tough! Look, they know how to play the slope. Teams have come down here and beat them, we know that but it was always going to be a tough game tonight. I know they’ve lost the last two but there was no way they were going to come down and roll over for us and let us win. It’s a top-of-the-table-clash at the end of the day and I thought they were really good tonight.
“We defended well. I don’t know how many shots our goalkeeper saved if I’m honest, not many so there weren’t many clear-cut chances. I thought we had the most clear-cut chances but they had the more possession but that’s sort of the way we play.
“We do let teams have a lot of possession and we hit them with a lot of pace and counter-attack. We’re missing Fred Obasa tonight, which was massive tonight. He’s got a bit of a thigh injury, hopefully he’ll be back for Saturday.”
Goalscoring chances tonight were at a premium.
The best it got for Rusthall came in the ninth minute when left-back Alex Rich delivered a free-kick into Glebe’s penalty area for striker Andy Constable to flick his header straight into Molloy’s gloves for a comfortable catch.
Glebe broke the deadlock with 15 minutes and 1 second on the clock.
Captain James Day produced a sublime defensive splitting pass from the halfway line to release Tobon through the heart of the pitch. He skipped past advancing goalkeeper Callum Christie, showed great composure to roll the ball into an empty net with his right-foot from 12-yards.
“James Day played the ball through, a great ball. Andreas took it really well to be fair,” said Woodward.
“We had a bit of a heart-to-heart after a game and he’s sort of done what he’s told and listened and realised the difference from Academy football to this level of football and he unfortunately has to realise I’m the manager and what I say goes. He has been doing that for the last four or five games.
“It was a good composed finish, for a nineteen-year-old he took it well to be fair. He’s listened for the last couple of weeks and he’s got his just rewards because he’s not been in and out of the squad, he’s been playing week-in-week-out and he’s a big player for us now.”
Ashmore said: “We started brightly. We asked the boys to play with a high tempo, be on the front foot, keep attacking, keep pushing them back and make it difficult for them, which I felt we did and then we went and conceded, which was a little bit poor from our point.
“We could’ve dealt with it and we didn’t. Fair play to their winger, he’s rounded the keeper and slotted it in.
“Apart from that there was a lot of ball played in the middle of the park and in their final third, without us really creating. We didn’t make their goalie make one save in that first half.”
Reflecting on the goal, Ashmore said: “Unfortunately somebody called offside, everyone stopped, which you know is a basic thing that you don’t do. Their guy’s made a right run, found himself in a great bit of space and a good bit of composure in the end.
“We knew we’ve got enough quality on the pitch to come back. We knew we started brightly and we wanted to be in the game for as long as we could in the second half.
“We had a plan, we prepped the boys to keep attacking and pushing them back and making it hard for them to get out of their half. We know what the pitch can be like if you get stuck in your own half and it can be difficult to get out and you find it keeps coming back.”
Glebe should have doubled their lead with the game’s next chance in the 25th minute.
Glebe striker Ryan Golding chased the ball down the left channel along with Rusthall central defender Luke Stratford, who rolled the ball back to his goalkeeper Christie, whose poor clearance was controlled by Day, who flicked the ball up before drilling his volley past the far post from 25-yards.
Woodward said: “A great strike to be fair. There weren’t a lot of clear, clear cut chances tonight if I’m honest.
“There was a lot of balls put into our box, which we defended well. I do feel second balls we could’ve been a little bit better but we rode our luck and it’s good.”
Ashmore added: “Again, I guess some mistakes can happen. It’s fallen to their centre midfielder, which is probably more beneficial to us than one of their strikers. Yes, we got away with it.”
Rusthall right-back Michael Tubb was often guilty for slowing the game down as he joined in with attacks in the final third. He received the ball on the overlap from Ian Parson’s pass before played the ball back to Parsons, who attempted to thread the ball through a solid Glebe defence. He then smashed his volley over the crossbar from 25-yards.
Rusthall central midfielder Joe Fuller drove a speculative right-footed drive from a central position harmlessly wide of the goal as Rusthall struggled to get past a well-organised Glebe back four, well marshalled by Carson Dennis.
“I thought the back four were superb again,” said Woodward.
“I thought Charlie McCarthy and Carson Dennis were exceptional again. I thought Carson was exceptional on Saturday against K Sports (in a 2-1 home win) and to mark a player like Andy Constable, he marked him out of the game.”
Glebe winger Sam Long threw the ball into the Rusthall penalty area where Day’s glanced back-header aimed for the six-yard box bounced behind for a goal-kick.
Glebe were pressing Rusthall’s attackers well, that was until the clock showed 44 minutes and 47 seconds when the home side grabbed an equaliser.
Left-winger John Phillips broke free from Davy-Jo Anderson’s shackles, turning the Glebe right-back and producing a cross of high quality into the box. Mitchell jumped out of Dennis’ pocket to plant his free downward header past Molloy from 12-yards out, the keeper should have done better low to his right.
“We threatened to be doing that for quite a period of that first half without it quite coming off,” admitted Ashmore, who runs the side alongside Steve Sands.
“The quality from out wide wasn’t quite there – or we didn’t work a good enough angle to get the ball in. Finally we did, just before half-time and fortunately Mitch did exactly what we know he can do in that sort of area and the goalie probably could’ve done better with it but luckily he didn’t and it went in.
“From our point of view it’s the most perfect time to score. It completely changed the complexion of that first half. It meant we went in on top. We were a bit more confident then and we showed it for the second half.”
For Glebe, Woodward said: “For 44 minutes we defended superbly, one lack of concentration, goal!
“It’s the first time Davy’s been beaten all year! It was a good header, good finish. From where I was standing, I don’t know. Molloy’s saying he should have saved it so if he’s telling me he should have saved it, he should have saved it!
Mitchell’s header clearly changed both camps thinking at the break.
“Yes and no,” came Ashmore’s reply.
“We said keep going, keep pushing them back, keep pinning them in. We didn’t want to step off or give them time to settle into the game. We certainly came out for the start of the second half. We were going down the hill. We wanted to keep them back in their half defending their own 18-yard line.”
Woodward admitted: “I came in and looked around and we looked a bit down and a little bit like we were beaten and I asked them to show a bit of character. We could have folded second half underneath the slope but I asked for a bit of character and we came out and showed a bit of character and done well.”
Rusthall came out early for the second half and started the half on the front foot.
Constable’s crossfield pass from the left was stabbed inside by Parsons but Phillips’ poor touch inside the box allowed Glebe to clear their lines.
The same three players then combined again but this time Phillips curled his shot around the far post from 16-yards after only 184 seconds as Rusthall’s passing was quicker and better and more like a table-topping side.
“That was a nice bit of play. The set probably got caught under JP’s feet a little. It was kind of just behind him so he was just digging it out on his weaker foot as well and just put it over the bar.”
Parsons whipped in a free-kick from the right towards the far post where another downward header from Mitchell was this time gathered by the Glebe goalkeeper.
There was concern tonight for Woodward as highly-rated left-back George King and central midfielder Jack Duffy were both forced off through hamstring injuries tonight.
“George is a massive player. He’s staying now until the season (before moving to work in New Zealand) but I thought when Joe Borland came on at half-time he was absolutely exceptional at right-back so there’s competition for places. George will go home now, it’s just a slight pull and we’ll see how he is for Saturday.”
Rusthall missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 63rd minute when Parson’s delivered a deep diagonal cross into the Glebe box and Constable glanced his free header across goal and past the far post from 12-yards.
Ashmore knew it was a big chance for the 38-year-old.
He said: “Well, he was moaning about those chances all game and he finally got one but unfortunately just a little bit too high for him. I don’t think he could quite get to it. It was a little bit in front of him and he couldn’t quite generate enough power and quite get what he wanted on it. It was a great ball from Parsons. AC’s in the right place but sometimes it hasn’t fallen for him.
“It was a big chance and a big chance you were looking for. Our delivery from out wide got better throughout the game. It was a big chance but it wasn’t clear cut enough to say it was a real goalscoring opportunity.”
Woodward said: “AC’s got to score them! I reminded him when he came off. There was a chance for him for Phoenix and he missed a sitter against Crowborough and we drew 1-1 and tonight he’s missed another.
“Andy Constable should be putting them away and I think he knows. Massive let off but Molloy didn’t have too many shots to save, which I was happy about.”
Phillips’ cross from the left was cleared out only as far as the edge of Glebe’s penalty area and Mitchell initially miss-kicked his volley and scuffed his rolling shot into Molloy’s hands with the second bite of the cherry from 18-yards.
Glebe had a chance to leapfrog over Rusthall in the league pecking order tonight – but they missed a 74th minute penalty.
Day threw the ball to Long, who drove forward towards the edge of the Rusthall box before playing the ball on the outside to Golding, who was running towards the by-line, before going down under John Lord’s tackle.
Referee Jamie Eacott pointed to the spot and booked Fuller for dissent and Lord for the foul.
Glebe’s penalty curse continued as Jeffery’s left-footed penalty clipped the crossbar and the referee awarded Rusthall a free-kick after Jeffery’s left-footed follow-up shot was sliced wide.
Woodward said: “We’ve had a few issues with penalties over the last couple of weeks. Golding’s missed one, Taz (Jeffery) has missed three and what I said to them, maybe I really have to take charge of them now. Let’s see who’s got the bo****ks to take one and Taz picked the ball up and he had the bo****ks to take it.
“Obviously he’s missed but listen he knows he should have scored and he’s disappointed because he’s a goalscorer but on Saturday he scored two that won us the game against K Sports so I’m not gonna moan too much.”
“From where I was standing it looked soft but I was on the wrong side, a long way away,” said Ashmore.
“From what most of the players were saying it was soft but we put ourselves in that position where we maybe got a little bit too tight to him because he was probably running out anyway. We didn’t need to be that tight, he’s felt a touch and he’s gone down and the ref’s given it.
“Sometimes maybe in football it levels it out. The miss justifies our point of view from it not being a penalty. We’ve known recently that they’ve missed a few. The goalie we’ve had in tonight is exceptional with penalty saves so we were fairly confident if it was on target, we’d know he’d save it!”
Molloy made another comfortable collection as a downward header from Rusthall substitute winger Sam Jones bounced towards goal after pin-ball inside the Glebe box after Parsons’ original free-kick from the right.
Rusthall threw bodies forward as they went in search for the winner that they desperately needed during the last 10 minutes.
Glebe had a line of players protecting their penalty area so Parsons played the ball out wide to Jones, who unleashed a right-footed dipping drive just over the top of the left-hand post from 35-yards.
Glebe substitute Frazer Cronin clattered into John Sinclair and Rusthall had one last chance to win it, 29 seconds into time added on, but Parsons’ right-footed free-kick from 35-yards stung Molloy’s fingers as he danced along his goal-line to make the comfortable catch.
Ashmore admitted: “It wasn’t a game we wanted to sit back. We weren’t playing for a draw. We wanted to keep going and get the three points, which is what we need. We’re really in a hunt for promotion now and the last couple of defeats has drawn the others closer, which has meant the points are really important for us now.
“We felt we had a chance tonight, especially with the way the game played out second half, by keeping on the front foot, we had a chance. We didn’t want to sit back and take a draw. We wanted to keep going until the final whistle.
“If Sam’s just dipped a little bit more, it might have made it a bit more interesting for the goalie.
“Ian’s free-kick, he struck it perfectly but unfortunately straight down the keeper’s throat. Unlucky. Either side and it may have given him a bit more to worry about.”
Woodward said: “They had a couple of late chances. In my opinion they came at us tonight and we had to ride our luck a little bit and I was happy that we didn’t lose.”
Molloy escaped a yellow card when he showed dissent towards the referee arguing that Rusthall’s only corner of the game shouldn’t have counted.
Molloy continued his protests after the final whistle and the referee pulled out a red-card to the goalkeeper, which leaves Woodward searching for a replacement during his ban.
The Glebe manager said: “That’s a big blow. I don’t know too much about what’s gone on, I’ll need to speak to the referee a bit more about it. It’s a big blow but he’s obviously done something. I’ll need to get my head together with my coaches and assistants to try to get a goalkeeper. I might need to get my boots back on and play. I’m joking, I wouldn’t play myself. I don’t think the knee will hack it! I’ll make a few phone calls and see if I can get a few favours off a few people and go from there.”
There is a fear, however, that Rusthall’s best ever season at this level may lead to disappointment and missing out on promotion all together.
Kent Football United are in third-place with 65 points from 30 games, followed by Sutton Athletic (63 points from 30 games) and K Sports (61 points from 30 games).
Rusthall play their last home game of the season on Saturday when fourth-from-bottom side Meridian VP visit Jockey Farm, before they travel to K Sports (1 April), Crockenhill (15 April) and Holmesdale (17 April).
Ashmore insists Rusthall will finish in one of the two promotion places.
He said: “We’re not overly concerned with teams below us. We only look forward. We look at ourselves and the games we’ve got. We’ve just got to keep going and focus on our games. Other teams are going to do what they’re going to do, whether they win, lose or draw.
“There’s a lot of big games in and around us as well. If we stay concentrated we know what we need to do. The boys’ know what’s expected of them and if we show a bit more like we did tonight then we’ll get through it.
“Promotion. Promotion, that’s what I see. I don’t think about anything else. It’s what we’re aiming for and planning for and working towards and show more of what we showed tonight, I think we’ll be alright.”
Glebe remain favourites to go on and win the league title – but Woodward admitted his side are “boring” to watch.
“Look, I know some managers will think that you’re boring and you’re this and that at Glebe. I know some people won’t be happy with what I’ve got to say but at the end of the day when I sent a team out we go out first of not to lose and we set our stall out and hit people on the counter attack.
“People moaned when we beat Cray Valley 1-0 that we was a boring side to watch and I get it week-in-week-out from the opposition’s fans and managers that we’re a boring side to watch and not very good but that’s the way we set out, that’s the way we play and it’s got us this far and I won’t change the way we’re playing at the moment.”
Looking at the league table tonight, Woodward knows Glebe are in the driving seat.
“Look, at the end of the day, everyone below us will be happy that tonight was a draw but if I’m honest I’m happy with how it’s gone.
“I’m not too sure what their manager is saying. I’m happy we’ve taken a point. We’ve got four games in hand, it’s all to play for and points on the board are massive. Rusthall are still in front, we’re still chasing them, which we’ve done all year so we’re trying to chase them down as much as we can.”
Rusthall: Callum Christie, Michael Tubb, Alex Rich, John Sinclair, John Lord, Luke Stratford, Ian Parsons, Joe Fuller, Andy Constable (Christopher Stoate 85), Dan Mitchell, John Phillips (Sam Jones 74).
Subs: John Sebbar, Calum Gallie, Sean Ingleson
Goal: Dan Mitchell 45
Booked: Luke Stratford 39, Joe Fuller 73, John Lord 73
Glebe: Adam Molloy, Davy-Jo Anderson, George King (Joe Borland 46), James Day, Carson Dennis, Charlie McCarthy, Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon (Jamal Alexander 86), Jack Duffy (Frazer Cronin 56), Ryan Golding, Aaron Jeffery, Sam Long.
Subs: Jonathan Murray, Scott Howard
Goal: Andreas Felipe Losada Tobon 16
Sent Off: Adam Molloy 90
Referee: Mr Jamie Eacott (Walderslade)
Assistants: Mr Keith Wenham (Allhallows) & Mr Ryan Andrew (Gillingham)
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