ROCESTER will feel aggrieved at the manner of their Midland Alliance League Cup quarter-final exit.
With over an hour played the Romans were in control, but were undone by a harsh red card for midfielder Jack Langston, who up until that point had been their most influential player.
The match had started positively for Rocester as their persistence gradually saw them produce chances.
Langston fired wide early on, but the first cast-iron chance came midway through the half when he slid the ball to Chris Sterling, only for the striker to pull his effort across goal.
Sterling did much better a minute later.
Tightly marked and with his back to goal the striker turned and fired an effort which looked destined for the net before Loughborough keeper Jack Howard finger-tipped it onto the post.
Darren Alexander capitalised on a mix-up in the visitors’ defence, but his square ball to Sterling saw the latter’s shot deflect away for a corner. Howard’s punch from the corner was unconvincing, but Darren Bullock could not get his shot on target.
The visitors’ main threat had come from quick counter-attacks, with Tom Nadin forcing Richard Froggatt into a near post stop on 27 minutes, and Alun Webb being denied by an even better save from the Rocester keeper eight minutes later.
Most Loughborough advances broke down quickly, and Nadin’s repeated attempts to win free kick’s eventually got him a yellow card for diving.
The Romans went into a deserved 41st minute lead when Alexander turned and smashed the ball past Howard, and the hosts continued to do most of the attacking as the second half began.
Langston whipped in a dangerous corner which Rocester failed to attack, and also began a move that saw Edwin Ahenkorah cross to Sterling, only for his shot to be blocked.
An up and under from Josh Dixon almost caught out Froggatt before being tipped onto the bar, but Loughborough’s passage back into the tie came in controversial circumstances on 65 minutes.
A 50/50 ball between Langston and Jordan Barker resulted in a loud clash of shinpads, and the referee immediately brandished a red card.
Barker recovered to float in the free kick himself, but shorn of their midfielder playmaker Rocester began to falter and Loughborough soon drew level through sub Josh Matusiak.
The visitors went ahead for the first time on 87 minutes, Sam Cook knocking the ball home after it had initially been palmed clear by Froggatt.
Howard made an excellent stop from Ryan Grocott’s free kick, and Rocester’s frustrating night continued as Carl Allen was shown a red card after full-time.