By Paul Connolly
An epic comeback from Whitby Town ensured a 3-3 draw for Chris Hardy’s men in wintry conditions at Dales Lane.
Goals from Matthew Tymon, either side of Junior Mondal’s excellent 25-yard strike, ensured that the Blues rescued a point after going 3-0 down after 11 minutes.
The game only went ahead thanks to hard work from Rushall Olympic’s volunteers, though kick-off had to be delayed by ten minutes to ensure lines were painted on the pitch.
And from the outset, Chris Hardy and his side may have been wishing that the game hadn’t gone ahead after all, despite going close early on, Jacquil Hill pushing James Fairley’s goal-bound effort over.
With just four minutes on the clock, Daniel Waldron broke through the Whitby defence, before being felled by Luke Bythway. Controversially, referee Sarah Garratt pointed to the spot, despite the challenge looking to be well outside the area.
Waldron stepped up from the spot, striking his penalty poorly. However, it somehow managed to sneak under Ryan Whitley to open the scoring.
And just a minute later, things got worse for Whitby. Bythway was beaten on the right by the goalscorer, who send a low cross into the path of Daniel Dubidat, who finished first time past a rooted Whitley from close range.
A crazy opening 11 minutes then saw the Blues fall further behind, as Waldron converted Joshua Sarmento’s cross inside the six yard box.
Looking down and out, Whitby eventually managed to regroup, play to the conditions and cause problems for their hosts, Kev Burgess volleying wide from 18 yards following good work from Kieran Weledji.
Andy Monkhouse had a golden chance to put his side back in the game, though Hill was equal to his back-post volley.
The turning point, many feel, came ten minutes later. Gurjit Singh’s outswinging corner found Sam Whittall in the penalty area. His close-range volley, however, was palmed off the line following excellent reactions from Whitley.
Just two minutes ahead of the break, Whitby found a lifeline. Monkhouse won the ball off Sarmento in the middle of the park, playing a neat through ball through to Tymon. The pass found the Blues striker in space and he finished well past Hill one-on-one.
It was almost 3-2 just moments later. Weledji’s ball into the box again found Burgess, whose acrobatic volley whistled just past the upright.
That second goal wasn’t far away, though, and after the break it took 15 minutes to come.
Dan McWilliams won the ball on the left-hand side, switching play to Mondal. The energetic ex-Middlesbrough man cut infield before curling a low effort goalwards from 25 yards. His attempt saw Hill at full-stretch, before striking the post and bouncing in.
Shortly after, Tymon nearly had his second of the afternoon, curling an effort just wide of the upright from twenty yards.
More controversy followed for the Seasiders, as Anthony Hume’s 25 yard effort struck the underside of the crossbar, before bouncing down on the line, with a number of questions raised as to whether it was in or not- the Whitby bench protesting that it was.
Callum Patton was handed a debut six minutes from time, replacing Lewis Maloney, and almost got off to a perfect start, breaking through on goal. However, a heavy touch ensured Hill just about removed the danger.
With the clock wearing down, late drama seemed inevitable and it came with just a minute of normal time remaining.
Weledji’s ball from the right was flicked on by Burgess, into the path of Tymon. The striker took a touch to find space, before finishing well past a despairing Hill to cue wild celebrations.
And the Blues could have won it moments later, though Anthony Hume somehow failed to convert from just three yards, despite having the goal at his mercy.
Rushall Olympic: Hill, Webb, Adelekan, Whittall, Hull, Townsend, Sarmento (Landell ’67), Smikle, Dubidat (Brodie ’71), Singh (Sangha ’85), Waldron. Subs not used: Williams, Jones.
Whitby Town: Whitley, Weledji, McWilliams, Burgess, Bythway, Snaith (C), Monkhouse, Mondal, Tymon, Maloney (Patton ’84), Fairley (Hume ’59). Subs not used: May, Fryatt, Salkeld.
Whitby Town MotM: Matthew Tymon – A fantastic two-goal performance from the striker who has come in for a lot of criticism in the weeks previous to this game.