Dominant City Put Five Past Rusthall in Season Opener
By Kevin Olver
City impress and start the season with five goals and three points at home to Rusthall
Canterbury City 5 Rusthall 2
A fairly comfortable and straightforward opening day victory for City who never really looked in trouble. A poor goal conceded on the stroke of half-time though may have given the slightest hope of a comeback for the visitors, but once City quickly re-established their two goal lead, the end result was never in doubt.
A fairly even opening saw City keeper Jack Delo quick off his line to clear an under-hit back pass and two Rusthall corners fail to deliver them any chances, while for City, Rob Lawrence curled a shot wide and James Turner saw his effort blocked.
City were starting to dominate going forward as Josh Froggatt skimmed a header wide from a well-worked free-kick routine, Turner was denied a tap in by a superb blocking tackle from defender Tom Cameron and a back-header from Liam Quinn just looped up and onto the top of the net. The visitors only response to all this pressure saw Callum Ridley's long range pot shot fly well wide of the angle.
It wasn't long before said pressure told though and on twenty-six minutes, City took a deserved lead. Jordan Casey curled a lovely ball round and behind the defence and Lawrence nipped through and clear and calmly slotted the ball home and past visiting keeper Callum Christie for 1-0.
City soon had a chance to double their lead when Casey was dragged down from behind a yard outside the box, but only to thump the ensuing free-kick against the Rusthall wall. The second goal was soon to arrive though when on thirty-three minutes, a Dave Pilcher corner was headed back across goal by Laurence Harvey for Quinn to plant a firm but perfectly directed header into a vacant area of the net for 2-0.
As the half wound towards the close there was some late pressure from Rusthall which saw them force three fruitless corners, but just as City seemed to be in control and looking forward to their half-time cuppa, they were caught out by a sucker punch. A route-one ball straight down the middle was allowed to bounce through unhindered and Joe Fuller took full advantage, firing the ball past Delo for 2-1 as City players all around looked aghast and in dismay at each other!
It was virtually the last kick of the half and it had given both teams a jolt but for completely different reasons - City though were still a goal up at the break.
The visitors probably restarted the brighter and a couple of attacks fizzled out, while a corner was comfortably taken by Delo, but City then responded in kind with their own version of route-one which saw Turner chase a huge ball forward into the box and with only Christie to beat, he was brought down from behind as he tried to get the ball under control. No doubt about the penalty awarded and no doubt about the outcome either as Pilcher stepped up confidently and sent the keeper completely the wrong way to make it 3-1 to the hosts.
After that, Rusthall heads dropped and it was all City. A fourth nearly arrived via the strong chest of Lawrence but he was only denied by a brilliant point-blank block from the keeper, following which City were denied again but this time only by a late offside flag as the ball took a deflection and ended up in the Rusthall net.
City continued to attack and Lawrence saw a shot blocked and following a right-sided attack from Froggatt, Turner was denied from close range by Christie who reacted smartly to push away his deflected shot just as it looked to have wrong-footed the keeper. It wasn't Turner's day as a few minutes later a great cross from substitute Adam Woollcott was perfect for the striker but before he could poke it goal bound, it was superbly cut out and away by Rusthall defender Luke Stratford with a timely and crucial interception.
On seventy-six minutes, goal number four duly arrived as an over-lapping run from right-back Emmanuel Ndah saw his ball to the far post volleyed back across by Woollcott and Casey diverted it home off his head for 4-1. City were soon looking for number five and in the same move following some good work by Casey, Turner again saw another effort blocked, a fate that also then befell Froggatt as his follow up shot from the rebound was also cannoned to safety off a flailing defender.
Wayne Wilson and Matt Martin were introduced in what were energy sapping conditions as Delo did well to paw away a rare Rusthall effort. Everything looked to be going so well for City, but a damper was then put on proceedings as the unfortunate Wilson was injured and had to be stretchered off just seven minutes after coming on.
As the game then moved into eight minutes of stoppage time, City bagged a fifth when a solo effort from Froggatt saw him knock the ball past one defender and flick it over another before squeezing the ball home from the tightest of angles - possibly via a deflection - but none-the-less it made the score 5-1 to City.
A bit of complacency albeit in the ninety-eighth minute and while City were down to ten men, allowed the visitors to score a consolation second as the ball ricocheted around the box before a low hard cross was stabbed home from about twelve inches out by Ed Sharman for 5-2.
That was the last kick of the game and five goals and three points was a very healthy return to get the season up and running for City.
Final score: Canterbury City 5 Rusthall 2
City: Jack Delo, Emmanuel Ndah, Michael Turner, Dan Keyte, Laurence Harvey, Liam Quinn, Josh Froggatt, Dave Pilcher (Wayne Wilson), Jordan Casey (Matt Martin), James Turner, Rob Lawrence (Adam Woollcott)
Unused Sub: Joe Nelder