Rusthall made it through to the 2nd qualifying round of this seasons F.A.Vase with a hard earned victory at Combined Counties League Premier Division side Balham to earn a home tie with Godalming Town on Saturday 14th September.
This was the Rustics second visit of the season to the Wibbandune Stadium as the sides were also drawn together in the extra preliminary round of the F.A.Cup and Balham ran out 1-0 winners on that occasion.
Rusthall started with 2 changes from the side that destroyed SC Thamesmead 6-1 on Bank Holiday Monday, with Steve Camacho and Louis Clarke not available, Charlie Clover and Lorenzo Cuozzo came in from the start and Robbie Bissett was back from holiday to take a place on the bench.
Balham started strongly and created a number of chances as Rusthall struggled to hold on to the ball in the crowded midfield. The first half somehow remained 0-0 and the Rustics will have been pleased to go in at the interval on level terms.
Whatever was said in the visitors dressing room during the interval certainly worked as Rusthall started the 2nd half looking like a different side and were quickly putting Balham under pressure with some superb build up play and on 56 minutes the deadlock was finally broken. As the Rustics put the Balham defence under pressure Balham's Jack Haire was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area, but to eveyones amazement referee Edward Turner from Brighton awarded a free kick right on the edge of area. Up stepped Tommy Lawrence to drill the free kick superbly into the top right hand corner giving the Balham keeper Haydn Read no chance to score his first goal for the Rustics since joining from neighbours Tunbridge Wells.
The visitors were no dominating play and despite losing skipper Paul Butler to injury looked certain winners. But on 73 minutes they gifted and equalise to Balham when once again giving the ball away, Balham's Brook Ermias race to the byline and his superb cross sliced off Robbie Bissett and past keeper Aaron McGuigan to make it 1-1.
But this Rusthall side have got a resiliance and continued with their passing game and were rewarded with a winner just 6 minutes from time. Clover burst into the box on the left and evaded a couple of challenges before slotting the ball home from a narrow angle.
Rusthall were far from their best on the day but showed true spirit to get past higher level opposition, next up for the Rustics is a tricky visit to Rochester United for a league game.