Three Goals and Three Points as City Win Away At Rusthall
By Kevin Olver
City start to shake off Vase disappointment with fine away win at Rusthall
Canterbury City 3 Rusthall 0
City bounced back from their weekend disappointment in the FA Vase to record a reasonably straightforward and professional victory away at league strugglers Rusthall.
In truth, the scoreline could have been more comfortable for City and although at times Rusthall did knock it around well with some energetic running off the ball, City's defence worked hard and stayed strong and keeper Jack Delo made some decent saves to prevent the hosts from ever getting any sort of a foothold in the match.
The game started with plenty of activity but little productivity from either side as the first effort on goal didn't arrive until around the thirteenth minute when Jordan Casey volleyed over for City from the edge of the Rusthall box.
The hosts then went on to create some good openings but just couldn't take proper advantage of any of these situations. Louis Clarke looked very lively for the home side but he saw Delo save one low effort and then dive across to shovel a second one away to safety. Nodirbek Bobomurodov then saw his shot deflected out for an unsuccessful Rusthall corner, while a free-kick into the City box came out to Louis Anderson, but under pressure from City's Bola Dawodu, he could only scoop the ball well over the City bar from just inside the box.
Stephen Harper was denied by Delo with another smart stop, but Rusthall's best chance came courtesy of Sam Murray who, through on goal with just Delo to beat, dragged his shot wide of the keeper but also of the far post when very well placed.
Rusthall's failure to convert any of these openings quickly came back to haunt them when City took the lead in the thirty-third minute. Danny Lawrence had just seen a shot from distance blocked before, in the next attack, he curled a lovely ball in and towards the edge of the home box where Adam Woollcott strolled in, took control and having taken the pass - he stroked it low past home keeper Aaron McGuigan with - it has to be said plenty of calm and authority - to make it 1-0 to City.
The visitors dominated the rest of the half and a couple of City corners were cleared by Rusthall before, on thirty-seven minutes, City should have doubled their lead. Casey lifted a clever ball over the defence for Dawodu to run onto and with just the keeper to beat, he sliced the ball over the bar from ten yards.
Late on, a long range effort from the host's Robbie Bissett never looked as if it would drop enough to trouble Delo and the keeper was happy just to wave it away as it flew well over the bar before shortly after the first-half was brought to a close with City a goal to the good.
City sent on Rob Lawrence as a half-time substitute replacing Dawodu and he immediately injected a bit of busy creativity on the right side of midfield and was soon setting up City's second. A quick throw from Casey, caught Rusthall on their heels but Lawrence was onto it and he threaded a lovely ball - which split the defence - in for Renford Tenyue who sprinted through, drew the keeper and again without any fuss, calmly slid the ball past him and into the net for 2-0.
City then began to move through the gears as Rob Lawrence fed Tenyue down the right and he popped a lovely cross over but somehow from eight yards out, Casey could only manoeuvre the ball over the cross-bar. Lawrence was again involved in the next attack sending Casey himself away this time and his clever ball into the box was just snaffled by McGuigan as Tenyue came racing in. A thirty-five yard shot from Rob Lawrence then flew over the Rusthall bar before on the other side, Danny Lawrence battled to the by-line before laying the ball back for Woollcott, who - on the run - struck the ball wide.
Another Woollcott effort then went over from distance before a penetrating run from Casey found Tenyue who held the ball up well and then sent over a far post cross which Casey ran round to get on the end of but his downward header lacked a bit if pace and bounced up giving McGuigan the opportunity to save.
Rusthall were struggling to lay a glove on Rob Lawrence and twice more he sent Casey through on goal - the first saw the striker's weak shot easily taken by McGuigan before the keeper then came sliding out to claim the second as Casey prepared to shoot. Another chance then befell Casey after Danny Lawrence and Tenyue combined to put him in but this time, his fierce shot was stopped by a brave sliding block tackle from Callum Gallie.
Rusthall were under constant City pressure but they gallantly plugged away on the break and from one a corner was earnt from which Murray glanced a header comfortably wide of the City upright. They came closer from a right-sided free-kick on the corner of the City box though, when Bissett went direct for goal and Delo had to move very smartly to his right to push a firm strike away but Rusthall regained the loose ball and from twenty-yards, Ryan Waterman fired in a stinger which Delo was quickly back up to and right behind to take safely at head height.
The game had opened up nicely but the bulk of the pressure was still coming from City with Rusthall relying on the counter-attack. City substitute Chris Saunders saw a shot deflected away for a corner before Danny Lawrence picked his way through the inside-left channel before pulling the ball back for another replacement - Joe Nelder, but his shot was brilliantly saved by McGuigan going down but flinging up a hand to paw the ball away as it looked to be dropping over him.
Tenyue then went close for City's third, when clean through, he drew McGuigan and shot across the keeper but narrowly wide of the far post, before, with a couple of minutes to go, Rusthall's best move of the match ended when Clarke's on target bullet of a shot was well beaten away from danger by Delo with both arms up to do so and thereby making another fine save.
In the nintieth minute, Rusthall should then have surely pulled a goal back when a corner from the right was knocked over to the far post, but from eight yards out and with the goal at his mercy, Bissett slashed the ball high over the bar.
Curiously, with only two added minutes signalled, City then went three up in the ninety-third minute when Danny Lawrence skipped and picked his way through midfield and into the box before laying the ball off to a queue of City players but it was Nelder who reacted first to stab the ball past McGuigan and cap his return from a long term injury with a goal and to make the score 3-0 to City.
A minute later, Rusthall had another opportunity to get a consolation, but for a twenty-yard centrally placed free-kick they opted for a training ground routine rather than a direct strike on goal, but it broke down quickly and as City cleared the referee blew the final whistle.
A highly credible performance from City given their weekend adventure and more of the same for the rest of the season please should see them hopefully climb the table as they have games in hand over many of the teams above them.
Final score: Canterbury City 3 Rusthall 0
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Gary Sayer, Phil Starkey, Ben Gorham, Ollie Lee, Renford Tenyue, Adam Woollcott (Chris Saunders), Jordan Casey (Joe Nelder), Bola Dawodu (Rob Lawrence), Danny Lawrence
Unused Sub: James Nurden