Sheffield FC’s FA Cup exploits ended for another season on Saturday afternoon, as they came up against their most difficult opponent of the season, and fell 3-1 to a superb Rushall Olympic side.
In a goal-less first half, Sheffield did excellently to thwart a constant wave of Rushall attacks, and despite the home sides best efforts the visitors never looked troubled.
It was a frantic first fifteen minutes, but neither side created any real chances, that was until Levi Rowley went close for the hosts with a shot just wide.
Club went the closest in the first period with their first chance of note, James Gregory – making his 300th appearance for the World’s First – put a cross in that caused issues for the home defence, with Marc Newsham inches away from making the vital contact.
Rushall’s dominance of the first half was apparent, and some tenacious play from Shaq Whittingham set up a fine cross, with Rowley heading just off target.
Whittingham forced a decent save from his own shot from distance, with Jonathan Hedge doing well to save, whilst a combination from Rowley and Jonathan Letford forced Hedge into action once again moments later.
The closest the Pics went to breaking the deadlock came after Letford was put through by Whittingham, and after the Hedge made the initial block, the ball squirmed along the line to safety.
Five minutes into the second half a calamitous misunderstanding between keeper Hedge and skipper Adam Chapman – keeper shouting “head it”, the captain hearing “Hedgie’s” – saw Letford nip in between the pair to nod the ball over the goalkeeper into the net.
The second goal came on the hour, this time from more conventional play as Rushall hit Sheffield on the break, with Alex Moore winning the ball to stick a cross into the box which Letford got a good head to steering beyond Hedge.
Club started to fight back and went close, after Gregory had done some good battling in the box, with Rory Coleman seeing his effort deflected inches off target.
The visitors’ goal came on 71 minutes; a short corner routine between Coleman and substitute Karl Demidh saw a neat one-two, with Coleman hitting a rasping drive from 25 yards into the top corner.
All the pressing for the equaliser to take the game to a replay in Dronfield came to nought in the 85th minute, Reece Mitchell putting a cross in for Letford, the striker’s hat-trick volley was denied by a brave stop by Hedge, with Moore finishing the rebound off with some quick reflexes.
Sheffield had a late chance to grab one back in injury time, Demidh hitting a strike from the edge of the area, with keeper Jonathan Platt making a fine save, easing Rushall into the second qualifying round.
Rushall Olympic: Jonathan Platt, Daniel O’Callaghan, Reece Mitchell, Lee Smith, Sam Whittall (c), Orrin, Pendley, Shaquille Whittingham, Alex Moore, Levi Rowley, Jon Letford, Chekaine Steele. Subs: Asa Charlton, Joe Fryatt, Shh Hassan, Jakob Burroughs, Callam Jones, Eesa Sawyers.
Sheffield FC: Jonthan Hedge, Rob Darkin, Rory Coleman, Lee Cooksey, Brad Beatson, Adam Chapman (c), Jordan Chapell, Ash Grayson, Marc Newsham, Mitchell Dunne, James Gregory. Subs: Stuart Ludlam, Matt Roney, Daz Winter, Sam Penney, Alex Wonham, Alfie Eagle, Karl Demidh.