MARK Owen lauded Cory Rudd’s show-stopping strike as “one of the best” that he has seen following last weekend’s 3-3 draw at Wellington Amateurs in a top-of-the-table clash in West Midlands (Regional) League Division One.
Rudd struck in the 67th minute of play to put Droitwich Spa 3-2 up at the Wickes Stadium, in an encounter in which the lead changed hands three times.
Connor Collins put Spa a goal in front on 12 minutes, before Matt Elsmore and Marc Perry struck in the space of a minute to put the hosts 2-1 up.
Alex Dugmore then levelled just before the hour mark, followed by Rudd’s wonder goal that was ultimately cancelled out by Perry’s header with minutes remaining.
A point apiece leaves the two clubs level at the top of the division on 31 points, though Spa’s +34 goal difference is considerably better than the Amateurs’ +15 at present.
The Droitwich manager felt his side were deserving of a tenth victory of the campaign, and said: “In the first 20 minutes we were outstanding, we could have been two or three goals up.
“We took the lead and looked comfortable until conceding twice in the space of a strange minute to go in 2-1 down at half-time. We addressed a few things at the break and came out a better side.
“Then we got ourselves level and Cory hits an unbelievable goal that was capable of winning any game – it’s one of the best I’ve seen.
“We hit the post and then in the last five minutes we were punished. If you take the last five minutes out, then we were excellent, but we’re happy with a point away from home.”
The visitors started strongly in Shropshire, creating a number of chances at will as Jack Davies, James Lemon and Jordan Cox threatened to put Droitwich in front.
Collins gave Spa a deserved breakthrough, burying a low strike, before going close to doubling his tally for the afternoon when clattering Owen Humphries’ goal frame.
But a sudden switch in momentum meant the hosts were 2-1 ahead after 23 minutes.
Elsmore took advantage of a mistake by Mike Seeley to steal in and plant the ball into the net, followed by Perry’s close-range finish seconds later.
The Saltmen re-grouped after the break and looked back to their best, hauling themselves level ten minutes into the second half when Dugmore powered a header low into the bottom corner.
The leveller encouraged Owen’s men to seek a second go-ahead goal of the afternoon, one which was provided in emphatic fashion by Rudd – who blasted a 25-yard rocket against the underside of the bar and in.
Spa would have been well out of sight, had it not been for the endeavours of Humphries in the Wellington goal to deny the visitors time after time.
Indeed, it was this inability to secure a two-goal cushion that proved fatal when Perry was left in plenty of space to head home from a corner kick, denying Droitwich a huge three points for their promotion hopes.
With no fixture this weekend, a visit to Bromyard Town in the Division One League Cup on Tuesday night (7.45pm) provides Droitwich with their next taste of action.