11:57pm Thursday 26th December 2013
By Andrew Simpson
WITTON are in uncharted territory.
This, a fourth successive Premier Division defeat, is their worst run of results since Brian Pritchard took charge as manager.
It also condemns them to the table’s bottom four places for the first time since the season’s opening seven days.
Yet there was a period early in the second half, when Albion trailed to Ahmed Obeng’s goal for the Pics, during which they might have made the outcome a different one.
Anaemic in the opening period, they awoke.
Danny Andrews and then Josh Hancock both made custodian Chris Gemmell work within minutes of the restart. Rushall, dominant previously, retreated.
Chris Simm, after Andrews nudged the ball into his path, scorched a shot goal-ward only for the net-minder to react instinctively to block with a raised hand.
At the other end Christian Dacres’ drive from distance was pushed to safety at full stretch by goalkeeper Matt Cooper, a reminder Rushall could still threaten.
But Witton’s next chance, on 64 minutes, was their best.
Andrews, from a central position, split the Pics’ defence to send Hancock clear. Face-to-face with Gemmell, his finish was feeble, and diverted wide.
The visitors’ confidence, frail already after recent results, shrivelled further.
It had evaporated by the time a second goal for Rushall arrived in the last minute.
Carl Palmer took possession in the centre circle, sweeping a pass out left for ex-Witton man Mathew Wood. He steered the ball into a shooting space for Josh Craddock, whose attempt squirmed under Cooper.
It was more than the hosts’ showing since the interval had merited.
In mitigation, they ought to have established a bigger advantage before then.
Wood’s control was sloppy when he attempted to intercept Anthony Gardner’s header in the first quarter hour, then Cooper saved smartly when Dacres blasted Dele Adebola’s lay-off.
Witton, second best, were not without regret of their own.
Scott Bakkor badgered Gavin Caines into a mistake on 20 minutes, though Gemmell parried the forward’s curling effort. Simm, reaching first the loose ball, fired it against the recovering Rushall man.
Shortly afterwards, the Pics were ahead.
Jack Duggan’s pass reached Obeng in a pocket of space between Ben Harrison and Ally Brown, the home team’s top scorer looping the ball over the latter before guiding a low shot past Cooper.
Craddock drilled narrowly over after Jimmy Turner cut back from the by-line, then Cooper smuggled clear at his near post after Obeng wriggled past a would-be tackler.
Rushall’s threat receded rapidly though when Albion were more aggressive after half-time.
But again Witton, goalless now in four of their past seven league encounters, could not cash in by scoring.
It is a problem they need to solve, and quickly.
Witton Star Man: Rob Bodie. In Dele Adebola and Ahmed Obeng, Rushall’s attack has within it threats that are diverse yet Bodie adapted to see off both in convincing fashion.
Rushall (4-4-2) Gemmell (GK), Turner, Martin, Caines, Duggan, Craddock, Palmer, Dacres, Wood, Adebola (Spink 82), Obeng (Mugisha 86) Subs not used Maher (GK), Daniel, Ellis Goals Obeng 26, Craddock 90 Booked Wood (foul)
Witton (4-4-2) Cooper (GK), Gardner, Bodie, Harrison, Brown, Andrews (Crofts 78), Breeze, Jackson, Hancock (Dawson 78), Simm, Bakkor (Blundell 78) Subs not used Moyo, Moseley Booked Bodie (foul)
Referee Akil Howson (Leicester)
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