A slightly late and shortened blog post this week.
Arriving at the War Memorial, there was a sense of anticipation. A proper football evening after rain all day. A slick surface under the floodlights and visitors managed by one of the most cultured midfielders I had seen play, Richard Sneekes. I was expecting Rushall to play in a style similar to the way Sneekes played at West Brom. I was wrong. More of that to come.
The majority of the 375 hardy souls who braved the horrible weather crammed themselves into the main stand behind the dugouts as the teams took to the pitch. One thing you can say about Rushall is that they have a much better Wolves kit than Wolves themselves these days. At least it is the right shade of gold not a gaudy bright orange resembling a bad fake tan.
The game began with the home side having the majority of possession, something that would continue for most of the game. Rushall still looked dangerous on the break, especially when they played the ball inside the Glassboys left back. This ploy, of getting their right winger behind the Stourbridge back line, was clearly something that Rushall had identified as a way to goal.
Stourbridge wasted a couple of early chances through Brown and Smikle before another Rushall attack down their right lead to Coleman having to tip a goal bound Mark Danks shot onto the bar.
Apart from these three incidents there was very little for either goalkeeper to be unduly worried about in the first half. All square and goalless at half time.
A cup of tea later and the teams re-emerged for the second half. Stourbridge immediately looked livelier with midfield duo Geddes and Billingham starting to take a grip on the game. However, the final ball was still not there. If it was not completely apparent in the first half, Rushall's game plan to not lose was very apparent in the second half. This was made even more clear when their combative midfielder Carl Palmer was sent off for grabbing and pushing over Sean Geddes. It was a stupid piece of retaliation that deserved a red but, in all fairness, Geddes was very lucky not to have seen at least a yellow for his part in the incident in which he appeared to kick out at the Rushall player first. Geddes was probably saved by the fact that the incident happened on the side of the pitch close to the assistant referee. It was this assistant who, incredibly, missed a blatant penalty call for Stourbridge when Ben Billingham was tripped inside the box.
Stourbridge continued to dominate possession, huffing and puffing inside the Rushall half but, time and again the final ball was not good enough. Substitute Luke Benbow, returning from injury, did manage a deflected shot against the bar but the home side never really looked like breaking the deadlock.
Rushall got their point which, it has to be said, was clearly their target all along. Stourbridge need a cutting edge and, most of all in my opinion, to speed up their passing moves. It was all too pedestrian and predictable.
Stourbridge FC - @sfcofficial
Rushall Olympic - @rushallolympic