IT was all smiles at Hillsfield on Saturday after Rocester recovered from their nightmare start to the season with a vastly-improved performance that earned them their first win against bogey team Tipton Town.
Caretaker managers Anthony Jones and Rob Crawley made four changes to the side that started the 5-2 midweek defeat at Continental Star, including new signing Josh Johnson, who started up front alongside Dan Brown in Nick Ward’s absence, and Aaron Dillon, who filled the left back berth instead of Jason Beardsley.
Winger Ashley Riddell and Tom C Brown also forced their way into the starting XI.
A far more focussed and business-like approach from the off almost produced an early dividend for the Romans when Dan Brown broke clean through.
However he did not get his shot away quickly enough, and although Dean Bennett’s lunging tackle from behind brought Brown to the ground, referee Scott Walker was not convinced enough to point to the penalty spot.
Ben Hadley fired a rising shot over the bar for the visitors before Dan Brown went close again for Rocester, clipping an early shot narrowly wide after Johnson had won the ball 20 yards out.
Half-chances came and went at both ends without the goalkeepers being seriously tested, and in the final moments of the half Rocester had two narrow escapes.
Firstly Phil Hughes was called upon to make an excellent save from James Smith’s firm far-post header, before moments later Danny Carey-Bertram looked set to score after squeezing past Hughes, only to steer his shot into the side-netting.
As they did in the first, Rocester made a bright start to the second half and were not far away from opening the scoring when Dan Brown tried to curl one in from the edge of the area, only to miss the far post by a couple of feet.
Aaron Dillon then followed suit with another curling effort that drifted wide, but a clumsy tackle from Brent Upton on Carey-Bertram deep inside the penalty area handed Tipton the initiative right on the hour mark as Carey-Bertram got to his feet and opened the scoring with a clinically-struck penalty.
The Romans, however, hit back immediately when George Barlow’s corner was helped on by Johnson to the far post, where Dan Brown was on-hand to sweep the ball into the net.
It was no more than Rocester deserved, and just two minutes later they turned things around completely when Dan Brown netted his second of the game with a super chip from the edge of the area.
Tipton had a good chance to level things up when a corner fell to centre-half Dean Bennett, but he blazed his shot horribly high and over the bar.
Rocester then suffered a major blow when dangerman Dan Brown, with four goals already to his name in the opening three matches, pulled up with a hamstring injury that is likely to keep him out for several weeks.
Upton and youngster Reuben Burt looked impressive at the heart of Rocester’s defence and they continued to hold the upper hand over their opponents’ front runners.
Nick Hawkins, Tipton’s player-manager who had already been cautioned during the game, was soon ordered from the dug-out after some ill-judged comments to the match officials after allowing his frustrations to get the better of him.
Brown’s replacement Allwyn Thompson did well after coming on, and he almost set up a third for the Romans in the closing stages.
Thompson worked himself into a good position on the left before feeding the ball inside to George Barlow, and his first-time cross flashed across the goalmouth just inches ahead of young substitute, Kieran Bullock who could not quite reach it at the far post.
GOALS: D Brown 62, 64 (Romans). Carey-Bertram 60pen (Tipton).
ROMANS: Hughes; Nutt; Dillon; Barlow; Burt; Upton; TC Brown (Wain 76); Ellerton; Johnson (K Bullock 88); D Brown (Thompson 73); Riddell.
Tipton: Cox; Smith; Caulton; Ellis; Bennett; Richards; Whalin; Ganderton; Carey-Bertram; Hawkins; Hadley; subs not used: Cheatle; Hall; March; Charles; Durrell.
BOOKINGS: Tipton – Charles, Hawkins.
REFEREE: S Walker (Stoke).