Following St Ives doing the double over the Tamworth in the pre-Christmas fixture at The Lamb, The Lambs made the short Boxing Day journey to Dales Lane to face The Pics in the first league encounter between the two sides at the visitor’s home since 1988 in the West Midlands Premier league days.
Earlier in the season goals from Lait and Dunkley had the only league a rare win of the season under then former boss Mike Fowler, and so Dennis Greene took his much changed squad to face Olympic looking for his fourth league win in fourteen league games since taking the reins in mid-September.
Greene made two changes to the side that fell to the Saints with Waite and Jemson replacing Smith and Verma. For Olympic, who came into the game having won one in the last five league games and sat on identical points to Tamworth managed by former Lambs player Liam McDonald.
Olympic got the game underway, attacking the clubhouse end of the ground and Sammons shot forced a block against The Lambs defence for a corner on the left which me it’s wat back to Singh on 3.
Play opened up for The Lambs on 4 and Taylor, playing as the lone striker up front, was put through to nodded it past Joe Slinn in the home goal but the angle was too tight for Michael Taylor to finish it and his ball back to Lait was cleared.
Influence midfielder and ‘Pics captain Sammons found space in the Lambs box on the right to blast a shot over the target and it seemed too easy for the hosts to pick up the loose ball and force themselves on Tamworth’s back line and then Fortune Maphosa’s sliding tackle to deny Tyler Lyttle on 10 conceded a flagkick on the right.
From the corner, low into the area, Daniel O’Callaghan finished a scrappy chance amidst a crowd of players from a yard out (0-1, 10 mins)
On 24 Waldron was first race towards the bouncing ball over the Lambs defence and Jordan Gough did enough to get the ball back to Jas Singh before the Rushall number 7 could capitalise.
At the other end, a neat passage of play say Kristian Green receive the ball from Jack Concannon on the right and his driven low cross was cleared, and then forced a corner which was cleared all the way back to Singh.
A strong run from Tyrell Waite then forced corner on the opposite side but the flagkick was cleared again then the same player was booked for a challenge on Brian Smikle in the ensuing play.
Tamworth started to show signs of putting up some sort of a fight after the half hour mark but Rushall worked hard to protect their lead denying runs from Lait and Waite over the halfway line.
A shot from Edwin Ahenkorah sailed over the bar a couple of minutes before the halftime whistle two minutes added time was shown.
Green picked up a pass from Lait down the right and cut into the box but his shot came off the keeper and was cleared shortly before the whistle blew for the interval.
Greene made two changes at the break, signalling intentions with Verma and Smith taking to the field to double the attacking options up front.
Other than an enforced corner for Rushall in the opening exchanges, Tamworth pegged back their hosts and looked for openings and the best one of the game so far came on 55 via a long deep ball from Joel Kettle which was met by the head of Taylor and he lifted it over Slinn but also just wide of the right hand post.
The change of tactics paid off on 69 when, following a foul by Ahenkorah on Verma, Lait placed the freekick onto the head of Maphosa and he powerfully finished past Slinn from 12 yards out. (1-1, 69 mins)
The pace picked up somewhat as the game continued and The Lambs put in an almost Jekyll and Hyde display when comparing it with the first half as the belief in the squad showed signs of returning but Olympic were not going to roll over easily.
Green and then Lait forced corners on the right on 80 and 82 respectively but the home defence held strong, and Green evaded the Pic’s back line completely with a long range effort from the right channel on 86 which took a deflection to divert it just over the crossbar.
In the next move Slinn prevented Taylor’s shot from 6 yards from winning the game with his first goal for The Lambs.
Five minutes added time was shown at the end of the game and Gough decided to try his luck from 35 yards but failed to test Slinn and the same plyer forced a corner with seconds to spare but Lait’s ball looking for glory came to nothing and both sides had to settle for a point each in a game of two halves.
Singh, Green K, Gough, Magunda, Kettle (c), Jemson, Waite (Smith G HT), Maphosa, Concannon (Verma HT), Taylor
Subs: Sharpe, Shaw, Potts
YC: Waite 28, Maphosa 71
Rushall Olympic Team:
Slinn, Smikle, Whittall, Hull, Waldron (Lund 47), O’Callaghan, Sammons (c.), Page (Maye 67), Lyttle, Ahenkorah, Pendley
Subs: Rrzybek, Burroughs, Berry
YC: Hull 18
Referee: Mr. S. Chakley