ROCESTER picked up a massive point in their battle for survival by holding runaway Midland Football Alliance leaders Tividale to a draw at Hillsfield on Tuesday night.
The Romans proved that, on their day, they can still compete with the best in the league, and came within a whisker of snatching all three points in stoppage time.
They had to contend with a confident Tividale side who began the game at a frenetic pace, although the Romans restricted their guests to few clear chances in the opening quarter – with Sam Williams’ header over the bar a notable exception.
Karl Edwards came closest to opening the scoring on 23 minutes when his turn and shot thundered off the underside of the Rocester crossbar and out to safety.
Rocester came close themselves three minutes later when Liam Shaw blazed a shot wide.
But it was at the other end where most pressure was being felt, and the Romans central defensive partnership of Dan Wain and Nick Ward had to remain solid in the face of heavy bombardment.
Richard Froggatt was having an accomplished performance in goal behind them, and he did well to claim Leigh Downing’s free kick through a crowd after Shaw was harshly adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box.
Froggatt did well the other side of the interval, positioning himself excellently to claim the ball after Edwards slid in to meet Chris Field’s cross-field pass.
Dan Brown had a chance for Rocester after Tyrone Wilson did well to beat Zack Foster in the air, but the striker saw his chance ricochet out for a corner.
Tividale upped the ante as the game wore on, and an unpunished elbow on Simeon Lawrence almost led to a goal, while Dan Brown tracked back all the way into his own penalty area to halt Luke Paskin’s run forward from defence.
Wain had no margin for error when Edwards broke into the box on 72 minutes, but executed a perfect sliding tackle to prevent the Tividale striker firing off a shot.
Dan Brown had a chance for the Romans when Marc Strzyzewski helped the ball on, but Tividale keeper Tim Beech raced out to intercept, while Wilson came even closer with a shot that rattled the visitors’ bar.
It was end-to-end stuff, and Michael Wardle twice had runs halted, firstly by Tom Brown and then by Wain, before the Romans saw a chance to grab a dramatic winner pass them by.
With the game in stoppage time, Strzyzewski set Dan Brown clear, but the usually clinical striker fluffed his lines with a shot into Beech’s hands.
ROMANS: Froggatt, T Brown, Allen, Whalley, Ward, Wain, Wilson, Strzyzewski, L Shaw, D Brown, Lawrence. Subs not used: Rutland-Jones, D Shaw.
TIVIDALE: Beech, Parsons, Foster, Field, Smith, Paskin, Winwood (Jackson 62), Williams (Bellis 87), Edwards, Downing (Miller 74), Wardle. Subs not used: Plows, Price.
ROMANS STAR MAN: Dan Wain – a colossus at the back for the Romans.
REFEREE: M Malone (Stafford).