Wilderpark hung on to their slender lead at Raleys Field to secure a hard earned 3-2 victory over newcomers Rusthall Club.
The visitors reduced to ten men midway through the second half came from 3-0 down to almost snatch a point which on their second half performance they deserved.
Jason Lee again deputised in goal for the injured Lewis Hughes but Andy Streeter made a welcome return coming on as substitute in the first half for the injured Leon Terry.
From the first whistle Rusthall Club were always dangerous on the break although centre back Steve Burgess and Neil Cutts defended well aided by the safe handling of keeper Lee.
The visitors were always vulnerable of the break particularly having a torrid time down their left flank where Alex David was a constant threat. Feeding off the excellent passing of Paul Burgess from midfield and often linking well with right full back Steve Henniker David should have made better use of the chances he created.
At centre forward Fred Payne latching on to a pass by Steve Burgess should have made better use of a scoring opportunity. A long clearance by Lee put the visitors under pressure and Terry took advantage slotting the ball passed the Rusthall keeper. Soon after Terry took leave of the match through injury and was replaced by Streeter on 30 minutes.
Enter Toran Osborne who had a brilliant session leading up to the halfway mark passing the ball accurately and consistently closing down his marker. In an excellent move Paul Burgess passed the ball to David who surged forward with Henniker overlapping. The winger’s shot was saved but with the ball bobbling around Henniker was able to knock the ball into the net.
The second half started with the Park immediately driving forward. After three minutes David outpaced his marker and cutting inside unleashed a shot cum cross which crashed into the far top corner of the goal with the keeper stranded.
The Park appeared to sit back with the attitude “job done”. Rusthall Club were of a different mind and with the hosts struggling to recapture their earlier midfield dominance they were pushed back on defence.
Lee made an excellent save pushing a fierce shot over the crossbar, a low cross from the right was inexplicably missed by Henniker and a Rusthall player was able to finish clinically. At the other end Streeter blazed wide when in an unmarked position.
Rusthall Club had a player sent off after clashing with Lee who was sent to the Sin Bin. Henniker replaced the offending Lee making several important saves. The visitors then scored from the spot to give them a scent of victory but the Park held out.