ROCESTER completed a quickfire double over Highgate United last Tuesday night as their Midland Alliance campaign gathers pace.
The Romans again beat physical Highgate 2-0 despite missing key players Jack Langston, Chris Sterling, Carl Allen and Ryan Pirrie, who were unavailable through suspension and injury.
It was a real test of character for Dave Langston’s men, but one which they passed with flying colours.
Saturday’s meeting between the two sides had ended on quite a fractious note and there were early fears this match would continue in the same vein when Highgate skipper Alex Price was lucky to escape with a yellow for an appalling challenge on young Kieran Mortiboys.
The Romans were by far the more potent going forward and Mensah Kinch fired a warning shot over the bar after being set up by Mortiboys.
Rocester were dismayed to be denied a stonewall penalty on 22 minutes when Edwin Ahenkorah skipped past Andrew Fraher and cut inside, only for the Highgate full-back to slide in from behind with a cynical challenge that went unpunished.
Ahenkorah spurned an opportunity to put his side in front when he missed from close range after Darren Bullock had headed Kinch’s deep cross to the Romans striker.
Kinch and Ahenkorah linked up again when the former squared the ball to the latter, who forced a solid low stop from Highgate keeper Shaun Edwards.
Rocester forced a succession of corners as half-time approached, and Mortiboys went close just before the break after a jinking run saw him cut inside, but he could not get enough power on his outside-of-the-boot shot to trouble Edwards.
Ahenkorah finally put Rocester ahead seven minutes into the second half when he met a long through ball, taking a touch to bring it inside the defender before slotting past Edwards.
Highgate’s play became increasingly cynical and Price somehow escaped a second yellow for a horrible challenge on Bullock.
The hosts were also fortunate to have 11 men on the pitch after Ahenkorah was hauled down by Daniel Povey with only Edwards to beat. The last defender received just a caution, but had only momentarily delayed the inevitable as Ahenkorah picked himself up to slot home the penalty.
Romans keeper Richard Froggatt was finally called upon when Leroy Bennett fired a left-footed effort toward goal, but it was the visitors who looked likeliest to score again.
The Romans took a blow when Mortiboys limped off after receiving a whack from Karl King which resulted in the Highgate man having his name taken, but they continued to press, with Ahenkorah playing in Darren Leonard, only for his heavy touch to take the ball to a defender.
Kinch had the best chance to make it three, cutting inside and unleashing a low shot which Edwards did well to parry to safety.
GOALS: Ahenkorah 53, 65 pen (Romans).
HIGHGATE: Edwards, Fraher, Povey, King, Checketts, Dineen, Sealey (Florey 67), Price, Bennett, Pitt (J Smith 79), Brown. Subs not used: Faulkner, Bradbury, N Smith.
ROMANS: Froggatt, Rogers, Bromley, D McLeod, Bullock, Johnson, Kinch, Swain, Leonard, Ahenkorah, Mortiboys (McComisky 84).
YELLOW CARDS: Price, Povey, King (Highgate).
ROMANS STAR MAN: Edwin Ahenkorah – the hosts had to use fair means and foul to try and contain the striker, but he still grabbed the decisive goals.
REFEREE: D Hall (Castle Bromwich)