ROCESTER picked up a good point at in-form Tipton Town on Saturday but it felt like a defeat for Dave Langston’s side who had looked set for victory going into the final 15 minutes.
An Edwin Ahenkorah goal and a wonderful strike from inside his own half by Jack Langston had given the Romans a 2-0 lead at the break. But after defending stubbornly to weather Tipton’s second-half revival their hard work was undone when grounded striker Chris Sterling was shown a straight red card for kicking out at Richard Huckfield.
The Black Country team sensed their opportunity and eventually broke the 10 men down five minutes from time through substitute Nathan Waite, who stuck a foot out to divert the ball past Richard Froggatt.
Tipton piled forward almost continuously throughout six minutes of stoppage time and Froggatt, who enjoyed a fine game between the sticks, did well under extreme pressure to claim several high balls sent into his area.
However, another Tipton substitute, Graham Ashton, was in the right place when a corner dropped to his feet almost on the goal-line and he was able to turn the ball in to equalise.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Rocester who barely had time to restart the game before the final whistle was blown – and for Froggatt in particular who justifiably felt he was fouled when conceding one of the corners.
Ahenkorah gave Rocester a great start when he opened the scoring 10 minutes in with their first meaningful attack. Dan McLeod’s excellent diagonal pass from defence to the left wing found Ahenkorah, and his purposeful run took him into the penalty area.
From a tight angle, his cross-shot clipped the underside of the bar and the far post before dropping over the line. Goalkeeper Jack Hayfield scooped the ball out but the assistant referee signalled for a goal.
Tipton made use of Tom Tonks’s long throw-ins while their more direct style of play also produced a number of aerial chances.
The clearest opportunities fell to Huckfield and Rueban Wilson who both failed to extend Froggatt.
Although they had to do plenty of defending Rocester coped admirably. And going forward they had two decent chances to extend their lead.
Joe Rogers drilled one effort over the bar while Swain just missed the target with a 40-yard lob over Hayfield.
Froggatt was perfectly placed to gather a well-struck overhead kick from Wilson following another long throw into the Romans area, before Langston provided the moment of the match immediately before the interval.
Hayfield again left his area to clear, but when the quick-thinking Langston collected the ball in a central position he had just one intention.
Langston took one touch before hitting a terrific 50-plus yard strike that sailed beautifully over the retreating keeper and into the goal without hitting the ground.
Hayfield made a good diving save to deny Sterling early in the second period, and Huckfield almost reduced the arrears on the hour with a low shot that pinged against the outside of an upright as Tipton looked to get back into the game. Sterling’s rush of blood eventually provided it for them.
SCORERS: Tipton- Waite (85), Ashton (90+6). Romans – Ahenkorah (10), Langston (45).
TIPTON: Hayfield; Plows; Henley (Ashton 85); Haycock; Huckfield; McFarlane; Wilson (Edwards 71); Tonks; Dubidat (Waite 71); Penney; Wardle. Subs not used: Cox; Machin.
ROMANS: Froggatt; Pirrie (Allen 59); Rogers; McLeod; Bullock; Langston; Kinch; Swain; Sterling; Leonard (Bromley 66); Asante-Ahenkorah. Subs not used: Johnson.
RED CARD: Romans: Sterling (75) – Violent conduct.
YELLOW CARDS: Tipton: Plows, Dubidat. Romans: Pirrie, Langston.
REFEREE: Mr. MBond (Wolverhampton).