CONTINENTAL STAR 5 ROCESTER 2
ROCESTER returned to the foot of the Midland Football League table after a 5-2 loss at Continental Star in midweek, a defeat which cost manager Dave Shaw his job.
The Romans have now conceded 14 goals in the opening two matches of the Midland Football League season, and after giving the hosts a five-goal start, even a much improved second half display was not enough.
Rocester created the first noteworthy chance when Dan Brown beat two men on the left and pulled the ball back to Tom Ellerton, who blasted his shot wide.
Garfield Robinson showed trickery at the other end to zig-zag his way towards the area, but his final shot was straight at Phil Hughes.
Hughes made a double stop to deny Denico Johnson after a slip by Reuben Burt, but when the ball was delivered back into the box by Robinson it was met by Johnson who headed home unmarked.
Robinson forced another low stop from Hughes after turning Burt, but the hosts doubled their lead on 26 minutes when Brent Upton was penalised for a push in the penalty area and Robinson smashed home the spot kick.
Dan Wain made a brave block to stop a thunderous shot from Robinson, while Aaron Evans sent a left foot effort just shy of Hughes' top corner.
Rocester were rightfully aggrieved when a seemingly stonewall penalty was turned down after Franklyn Hazel clearly caught Brown from behind as he broke into the box.
Ellerton then forced Jordan Ellis into a stop, but Rocester were again frustrated by the referee when he pulled play back for a foul on Brent Upton rather than allow Brown to take the advantage as he bore down on goal.
After this bright spell, Rocester fell further adrift when Johnson beat Wain for pace before rounding Hughes to score.
However, when number four came seven minutes before the break the officials again found themselves amid controversy when they failed to spot Hazel's handball to beat Hughes to the ball and send it into the net.
However, if the refereeing performance could be deemed poor, the same could be said for Rocester's defending, and Johnson strolled past Jason Beardsley before sending a dangerous ball across goal.
Worse was to come on the stroke of half-time when Daniel Elwell's turn left Wain on his backside and the striker smashed his shot past Hughes.
It was a much different Rocester who emerged from the dressing room after the break, and George Barlow forced Ellis into a stop within a minute of the restart.
Evans blazed over with Hughes' goal at his mercy and Johnson should have found the target after losing Beardsley.
Ellerton beat Anton Caines-Powell on the right but lacked the support of his team-mates, and the Romans midfielder also put a chance over the bar after meeting Nick Ward's cross.
Sub Ashley Riddell found Brown with a cross, only for the striker to miscue his shot, while Brown turned provider to slot the ball through to sub Tom Brown but Ellis was alert to the danger.
Ward had a brace of chances, firing over on the turn with the first and chipping over the bar with the second, as a Rocester goal looked more and more likely.
The goal finally came on 76 minutes when Tom Brown crossed to Dan Brown, and the striker turned and fired into the bottom corner despite Ellis getting a touch.
Brown grabbed his second two minutes later, bundling the ball over the line despite being fouled by Hazel.
The lively Riddell found Ward, but the latter couldn't keep his shot down. Dan Brown's cross eluded everyone, as did Matt Nutt's inswinging free-kick towards the far post, while Ellis took two attempts to palm away another free-kick from Nutt under pressure from Ward:
GOALS: Johnson 16, 36, Robinson 26 Pen, Hazel 38, Elwell 44 (Star), D Brown 76, 78 (Romans)
STAR: Ellis, Wilson, Caines-Powell, Jara, Hazel, Hurdman, Green, Evans, Johnson, Elwell, G Robinson. Subs: Nduwla, D Robinson, Lissa, Swaby, C Thompson.
ROMANS: Hughes, Nutt, Beardsley (Whalley 65), White, Wain, Burt, Barlow, Upton (Riddell 60), Ward, D Brown, Ellerton (T Brown 63). Subs not used: A Thompson.
ROMANS STAR MAN: Dan Brown – brace of goals from the striker gave Romans hope.
REFEREE: K Allsopp (Stafford).