HYDE United and Rushall Olympic both ended with ten-man as they shared the spoils at Ewen Fields on Monday night.
The hosts went ahead when Scott Spencer was felled in the box by Pics captain Jack Duggan who saw red before Spencer coolly converted the resulting penalty.
Rushall turned the game around after half-time with goals from Alex Reid and Andre Brown, both following up after initial efforts had been saved but Laurie Bell’s low shot tied up the scores at 2-2.
Hyde’s James Burke was also dismissed with just four minutes remaining for hauling down Reid but there wasn’t enough time for Rushall to capitalise and the game ended in a draw.
Rushall found the pace of the game quicker than the Tigers and should have gone in-front on nine minutes when the pacy Reid, playing on the left of a midfield five, was clean through on goal, albeit at an angle, but only managed to shank wide of Sam Vince’s left-hand post.
Hyde found their feet on the quarter hour, Adam M Jones headed Jordan Snodin’s free-kick into a dangerous area but the ball was hacked clear. Jones took a bang to the head for his troubles which required some on-field treatment and eventually forced the defender off in the second half.
Aryton Bevins screwed wide when well placed for Gary Lowe’s men before the most crucial decision of the game.
A weak Kieran Preston goal kick was headed back towards the Pics goal which Spencer managed to get to and have a free run on goal, the Hyde number nine delayed his shot till the last second when Duggan came through the back of him resulting in the visitors captain and centre-back being given his marching orders and a penalty kick to the hosts. Spencer, off a staggered run up, stroked the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal to open the scoring whilst Rushall had to play over an hour with 10 men.
Rushall’s Mitch Tolley was moved from his position supporting the lone striker Brown to plug the gap vacated by Duggan as the Pics looked to see out what remained of the half through without any further damage.
As a result the latter stages of the first 45 minutes were largely played in Rushall territory but the closest Hyde came to doubling their advantage was when Snodin’s shot was beaten away by Preston and the sides took to the changing rooms with the score at 1-0.
Richard Sneekes made two changes in personnel over the interval, bringing on Gavin Caines into the back line as well as Zak Martin to play on the left of a midfield three. Reid was also relocated, the former Walsall man joined Brown as the visitors switched to a 4-3-2 formation.
The half-time reshuffle reaped immediate rewards for the Pics when Reid turned in the rebound after Michael Townsend’s initial shot was only parried by Vince just three minutes into the second period.
Rushall’s strong start to the second 45 continued and they thought they should have been awarded a penalty kick of their own when Brown was clattered into by Hyde’s Adam M Jones but referee Richard Holmes refused to point to the spot for a second time in the match.
Reid then crashed an effort on the turn against the crossbar from all of 25 yards as the 10 men of Rushall asserted their second half dominance before the visitors went ahead on in the 55th minute.
Reid used his extreme pace to find space on the left half of the penalty area and though it initially looked like he’d taken the ball too close to Vince he was able to poke a shot towards goal which the Hyde goalkeeper could only push out into centre of the penalty area. Brown was the fastest to the loose ball and he turned in smartly to the delight of the small army of Pics fans behind the goal.
Reid thought he was through on goal just four minutes later but the flag went up against the attacker in what looked like a very close call before Rushall passed up a golden chance to establish a two-goal advantage. Again it was that man Reid who got clear of the back line after Kris Taylor’s excellent through ball and even though he had Tolley to square the ball to, Reid attempted an audacious chip over the onrushing Vince but miscued horribly and the ball landed straight in the arms of the Hyde goalkeeper.
The visitors would come to rue that missed opportunity when Hyde forced themselves level in what was a frantic second half. Andreas Bianga played a low ball into the penalty area where Bell was able to smartly drill into the bottom left corner of the goal leaving Preston with no chance. This was the first time the Tigers had an attempt in the second half and they made it count.
As the game headed towards its climax the ten men of Rushall started to tire. Playing a man short from the 27th minute just two days after a trip to Darlington was taking its toll on the part-timers and it was the Tigers who were pressing for a decisive fifth goal. Bevins curled wide, Ben Holmes blazed over and Burke had an effort beaten away as the hosts looked to secure just a third league win in 18 games.
On 86 minutes Brown flicked on for Reid in a rare foray forward for the visitors. Reid used his strength to get goalside of Burke who hauled down the Pics attacker on the edge of the penalty area. Burke went the way of Duggan in the first half and became the second man wearing a captain’s armband to be sent-off. Taylor’s free-kick was hit into the wall and although the ball ricocheted for Martin it only bounced off him and away from goal.
Now back on level terms in terms of personnel, Rushall pushed for a winner that would keep their play-off hopes alive. Martin carried all the way to the byline and pulled the ball across the face of goal but there was no Pics attacker to turn home and both sides had to be content with a point apiece.
Gary Lowe’s Hyde may feel they should have won considering they played an hour with a man more than their opposition but it will be the visitors who will see this as two points lost. They had golden chances both before and after Duggan’s red card and will feel that if Vince’s dismissal had come five minutes earlier that they would definitely have gone on to win the game. Not to be for those in gold and black who will have to be imperious from now till the end of the season to secure a play-off berth. Hyde look pretty safe in 18th place.
Hyde: Vince, Burke (C), Snodin, Pearson, Adam M Jones (Fitton ’61), Bell, Reeves, Holmes, Spencer, Bevins, Bianga
Not Used: Boyle, Broadbent, Parkes, Adam N Jones
Sent off: Burke
Rushall: Preston, Christophorou, Fox (Caines ’46), Tolley, Duggan (C), Townsend, Fitzpatrick (Martin ’46), Taylor, Brown, Walters, Reid
Not Used: Wilkinson, McKenzie, Matinyadze
Sent off: Duggan
Referee: Mr Richard Holmes
By Jordan Davies at Ewen Fields