15:36 Wednesday 05 February 2014

Rocester 2, Heath Hayes 1

Written byDAN BISHOP

DAN THE MAN . . . prolific striker Dan Brown netted Tuesday evenings late winner to take the Romans out of the bottom three DAN THE MAN . . . prolific striker Dan Brown netted Tuesday evenings late winner to take the Romans out of the bottom three

Rocester boss Dave Shaw credits an “unbelievable” Richard Froggatt save as the inspiration behind Tuesday’s night’s crucial win over fellow Midland Alliance strugglers Heath Hayes.

Andrew Davies had cancelled out Paul Whalley’s early strike to get the visitors back on level term at the break.

And Hayes looked certain to take a potentially decisive lead when Lloyd Dunet let fly.

Frogatt had palmed away a firm effort from David Waple just before pushing Dunet’s strike against the angle of upright and bar.

“It was an unbelievable save,” said Shaw. “I don’t know how he got there.

“After that we seemed more dominant. The longer the game went on the more our determination got them on the back foot.”

Rocester’s victory also owed much to prolific striker Dan Brown, whose late free-kick clinched the three points.

Shaw said: “That’s seven in seven now. I knew he’d do that.

“It’s why I brought him in.

“Dan hadn’t had much of a sniff all game – but he scores goals.”

Heath Hayes had an early chance when Davis blazed over a left-foot effort after a corner found its way to him at the far post.

But it was Rocester who looked the more dangerous in the opening stages.

Brown was agonisingly close to getting his head onto a high ball into the area, while Tom Ellerton fired a chance over.

It took just nine minutes for the Romans to get their noses in front when Whalley pounced on a loose ball in the area to smash home.

Marc Strzyzewski looked destined to double the lead three minutes later when his powerful strike on the turn was heading straight for the inside of Adam Jenkins’ left hand post, only for the keeper to pull off an outstanding full stretch save to tip the ball round the post.

The Romans forced a succession of corners during this time, but were unable to build on their advantage.

Heath Hayes, meanwhile, were becoming more of an attacking force, particularly through Adam Langley, who forced a good stop from Froggatt.

The visitors drew level on the half-hour mark when Waple held the ball up with his back to goal before laying it off to Davis, who produced a clinical finish from the edge of box.

Waple tested Froggatt with an effort of his own, while Langley flashed a shot across the face of goal as the visitors finished the half on top.

Hayes continued to threaten after the interval as the weather took a turn for the worse.

Froggatt palmed away a firm effort from Waple, and when a shot from the same player squirmed away from the keeper Tom Brown reacted to mop up the danger.

Froggatt then produced his superb save from Dunet.

The visitors then faded on an increasingly heavy pitch.

They were denied a penalty when Brown was clipped from behind by Ben Maddox as he ran clear.

But justice was served when another foul on 89 minutes presented Brown with a free-kick from 20 yards, and his low strike skidded off the rain-soaked pitch under both the wall and keeper Jenkins.

Shaw said: “That’s a brilliant result. The lads worked really hard.

“That hard work got us through in the end.”

Goals: Whalley 9, D Brown 89 (Romans), Davis 30 (Heath Hayes).

Romans: Froggatt, Beardsley, Holland (T Brown 54), Whalley, Allen, Wain, Ellerton, Strzyzewski, L Shaw (Lawrence 90), D Brown, Rutland-Jones (Johnson 72); not used: D Shaw.

Heath Hayes: Jenkins, Hurdman, Kabeya (Scott 54), Phillips, Maddox, Langley, Davis, Scragg, Waple, Geldart (Dunet 66), Pickett (Green 72); not used: Winwood, Burgwin.

Romans Star Man: Dan Brown – Rocester’s have-a-go hero with late free-kick winner.

Referee: M Murfitt (Stoke on Trent)

Attendance: 80.

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