Erith Town 2 Rusthall 0

THE Rustics ended a year in which they reached new heights with a disappointing defeat at the hands of a well-organised Erith Town side.

On a very windy day conditions proved difficult despite the excellent playing surface.

The home side started strongly and took the lead after 11 minutes. Rusthall failed to deal with a cross from the left and the ball fell to the feet of striker Stuart Zanone.

He showed all of his experience with a great first touch before hitting an unstoppable right-foot shot past the goalkeeper Steve Lawrence.

Rusthall bounced back from this early setback, got the ball down and played some good football. After a spell of pressure they were unlucky not to equalise on 29 minutes.

Fine play by Steph Harper, the club’s leading scorer, saw the striker unleash a right-foot shot from the edge of area beat the keeper Adam Molloy, hit the inside of the post and rolled back into his hands.

The Rustics were unable to create any further clear-cut openings and were not helped by Harper picking up a hamstring injury on 37 minutes, to be replaced by teenage midfielder Matt Hathway.

Early in the second half the injury toll worsened when striker Joe Fuller was forced to go off with a knock and was replaced by another teenager, Bayley Colbran.

Rusthall worked hard but never really troubled the home defence and on 62 minutes the Dockers doubled their lead.

Again Zanone hit a superb shot and Lawrence superbly saved it, diving to his left, but Osman Proni was on hand to slot home from close range.

Bottom-of-the-table Hollands & Blair visit the Jockey Farm Stadium on January 10 for what looks like a must-win game for the Rustics if they are to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle in Southern Counties East League Premier Division.

But next up for the Rustics is another difficult away game at Beckenham Town on Saturday (January 6, kick-off 3pm).