Rusthall 3 FC Elmstead 1
FC ELMSTEAD made the Rustics work hard for this win and prevented them from playing their free-flowing football in a drab first half.
But the home side proved why they are pushing for promotion with a far better second-half display.
They found Elmstead hard to break down as they defended very deep and were hard to get behind. But Rusthall finally broke the stalemate on 34 minutes.
From a free-kick down the left-hand channel Ian Parsons delivered towards the near post and Andy Constable glanced his header across the keeper into the far corner from six yards.
FC Elmstead grabbed an undeserved equaliser in first-half injury time through their first and only shot on target.
Left-back Ben Lockett cut inside and was fouled. He rolled a short free-kick inside to Aaron Guard, who drilled his right-footed shot into the top right-hand corner from 28 yards.
Rusthall’s performance was vastly improved after the break but they still had to wait until the 58th minute to take the lead, through Constable’s strength and a clinical finish.
John Phillips threaded the ball through the middle and Constable shrugged off his marker and burst through on goal before rolling his left-footed shot across the keeper from 15 yards.
The Rustics were now dominating the game and scored a third on 67 minutes. John Sinclair slipped the ball into Constable’s feet in the final third and he swept it out to Parsons on the right in acres of space.
He flashed in a low cross across the face of the penalty area and Dan Mitchell, picked to partner Constable up front, stabbed his shot home from inside the six-yard box.
Rusthall host Sporting Club Thamesmead next Saturday, and travel to Lewisham Borough on March 4, before their home game against Glebe on Wednesday March 8.
That game looks set to be one of the biggest in the club’s history, as it could go a long way to see who wins the Southern Counties East title.