QUITE how Rocester escaped with a point from this one-sided encounter against Shepshed Dynamo will remain a mystery to all those present at Hillsfield on Saturday.
The Romans were under the cosh from the first whistle to the last and were also on the wrong end of a frustrating refereeing performance which saw two of their players controversially sent off, including goalkeeper Wayne Smith.
Yet somehow they managed to battle their way through to the end without conceding a goal, and left the field to a standing ovation from the appreciative home fans impressed by their dogged determination against the odds.
Shepshed had already dominated the opening half-hour when Smith’s challenge on Luke Edwards just outside the penalty area left the striker grounded.
Smith’s claims that the striker made the contact with a trailing leg fell on deaf ears, and the vociferous away following got their wishes when referee Neil Faunch brandished his red card.
The dismissal did at least provide an opportunity for recent signing Josh Bowker to make a name for himself between the sticks.
The young substitute was brought on to make his debut after volunteering to go in goal, and, although normally a striker, he quickly proved to be an able No 1 with a confident diving save from the free kick conceded by Smith and a superb tip-over from Jon Jones just before the interval.
Bowker continued to look comfortable after the break as the visitors looked to press home their advantage, but Rocester’s cause was made even more difficult just before the hour when Lee Spencer was ordered off after receiving a second yellow card minutes after his first.
Again, the decision angered the Romans who justifiably believed a free kick would have been sufficient punishment.
Rocester’s response, however, was fantastic.
Galvanised in adversity, all nine remaining players gave absolutely everything to keep out their increasingly frustrated opponents.
More heroics were required from Bowker as well as a huge slice of good fortune when a terrific effort from Jones cannoned off the underside of the bar before being booted away.
It was real backs-to-the-wall stuff, but unbelievably Rocester had a chance to win it inside the last five when Kurtis Glenn reached a long ball before Dynamo stopper Ryan Thacker.
Having knocked the ball past Thacker, Glenn needed a first-time shot with his left to squeeze the ball into the unguarded net, but he took an extra touch to transfer the ball onto his favoured foot before losing his footing and the chance.
It was a terrific point under the circumstances which proved good enough to lift the Romans out of the relegation zone, but their underlying problems of creating chances and scoring them were clear long before their numbers were reduced.
Whether Rocester can use this as a turning point in what has thus far been a difficult season remains to be seen, but the commitment and attitude shown on Saturday will stand them in good stead for the battles ahead.
ROMANS: Smith, Spencer, Littler, Wain, Allen, Upton, Brain (Dillon 70), Whalley, Cooper-Richards (Glenn 70), Minshull, Dunlevy (Bowker 31). Subs not used: Rutland-Jones, King.
DYNAMO: Thacker, Mulonga, Hopewell (Aietan 75), White (Martin 70), Attenborough, McCormick, Davies, Attwood, Jones, Edwards, Smedley. Subs not used: Bennett, Byrne.
RED CARDS: Romans – Smith (31), Spencer (58).
YELLOW CARDS: Romans – Allen, Dunlevy.
REFEREE: N Faunch (Lichfield).