Leiston rally from two goals down to secure deserved point against Rushall Olympic

PUBLISHED: 17:02 25 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:02 25 January 2020

Leiston (blue shirts) are forced to defend another delivery during the first half, against Rushall Olympic. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Leiston (blue shirts) are forced to defend another delivery during the first half, against Rushall Olympic. Picture: CARL MARSTON

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Leiston 2 Rushall Olympic 2

Rushall Olympic right-back Mitchell Clarke pumps the ball forward, with Leiston's Oliver Saunders in close attendance. Picture: CARL MARSTONRushall Olympic right-back Mitchell Clarke pumps the ball forward, with Leiston's Oliver Saunders in close attendance. Picture: CARL MARSTON

Leiston rallied superbly from a 2-0 deficit at half-time to earn a gutsy point at home to promotion-chasing Rushall Olympic, at Victory Road this afternoon.

Glen Driver's men were trailing to a brace of goals from centre-half Sam Whittall, who rammed home a 30th minute penalty and then found the back of the net with a precision shot from distance, just two minutes later.

But Leiston are made of stern stuff, these days, and they battled back gamely to secure another precious point in their quest to pull well clear of the relegation zone.

Robert Eagle rifled home a 61st minute penalty, before substitute Zak Brown bagged an 86th minute equaliser by converting at the far post with a header, from close in.

Leiston looked the better team for the first quarter of the game, without creating too many chances, before falling behind.

Kyle Hammond received Ryley Scott's pass and blasted a first-time shot high and wide within the first couple of minutes.

And Josh Hitter could have done better when being teed-up by Jake Hutchings, just outside the six-yard box, in the eighth minute. Hitter should really have taken a shot earlier, but the midfielder delayed and was pushed wide, with his final cross-cum-shot cleared.

Rushall, despite playing second fiddle, scored twice inside two minutes to wrest control by the half-hour mark.

The visitors were awarded a penalty for Kyran Clements' challenge on Daniel Waldron - it was as soft penalty, but there was contact - and after a two-minute delay while keeper Samuel Donkin received some treatment, up stepped Whittall to smash the spot kick into the roof of the net.

That opener arrived in the 30th minute, and Rushall doubled their lead just two minutes later with Leiston caught cold. They failed to fully clear from a throw-in, and centre-half Whittall's well-struck shot from just inside the penalty area was well placed into the corner of the net.

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Rocked by these two goals, Leiston never really looked like getting a goal back before half-time, despite a number of crosses and corners pumped into the box.

They did have a chance in first-half stoppage time, with John Sands bursting clear onto Siju Odelusi's through ball, but the home striker could not prod the ball beyond advancing keeper Jonathan Flatt, who saved well on the edge of his box.

It was a quiet start to the second half, Rushall midfielder Kieran Cook firing a measured shot a foot over the bar in the 58th minute, while at the other end Hitter's cracking 25-yarder was clawed away by keeper Flatt.

Leiston halved the deficit via the penalty spot in the 61st minute. Referee Ayrton Hursey awarded a penalty for handball from a corner, and Eagle made no mistake as he slammed the spot kick into the top corner of the net via his trusty left boot.

The Blues very nearly equalised in the 68th minute. Sands did well to stretch forward and meet Eagle's teasing cross with a diving header that Flatt did well to divert wide.

Leiston keeper Donkin came to his side's rescue with a superb reflex save on 73 minutes, beating away Whittall's firm header from a corner routine.

And the hosts were level in the 86th minute, substitute Brown squeezing home at the far post to earn a deserved point.

Rushall tried to get back in front and substitute Levi Rowley was desperately close with a 20-yarder that curled a foot wide of the far upright, on 89 minutes, but Leiston held on for a vital point.

Squads

LEISTON: Donkin, Clements (sub Bloom, 54), Saunders, Scott, Odelusi, Hutchings, Lawrence, Hitter (sub Henry, 79), Hammond, Sands, Eagle (sub Brown, 75). Unused subs: Aitkens, Skubich.

RUSHALL OLYMPIC: Flatt, Clarke, Mitchell, Waldron, Whittall, Pendley, Cook, Moore, Wreh (sub Leachman-Whittingham, , Letford (sub Rowley, 66), Batchelor. Unused subs: Charlton, Smith, O'Callaghan.

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