ROCESTER remain pointless and rooted to the bottom of the Midland Alliance table after their third successive defeat, but there are signs that will not be the case for long.
For the second successive Saturday the Romans should have taken at least a share of the spoils.
Their young side showed a lot of character against Coventry Sphinx to put their midweek mauling from AFC Wulfrunians behind them.
There was little between the two teams during the early exchanges.
However, as the half wore on it was the visitors who posed the biggest threat going forward and they were eventually rewarded five minutes before the break when Ashley Wilks lofted a shot high over Romans keeper Richard Froggatt who was caught in no-mans-land on the edge of his area.
Rocester had not seriously threatened the Sphinx goal in the opening 45 but they came out with more purpose for the second period and Errol Johnson was close with a low shot after bursting forward from midfield.
Striker Tom Cooper-Richards, on holiday for the first two fixtures, replaced Lewis Gough just before the hour mark and his presence in the forward line provided the Romans with much more of a cutting edge.
Within minutes of Cooper-Richards’s introduction, Aaron Dillon twice fired efforts against the same left-hand upright – the second of which came when he met a headed clearance with a cracking volley from the edge of the box.
Now very much in the ascendancy, the Romans missed another great chance to draw level when a long drop-kick from Froggatt saw Cooper-Richards race through on goal, but Carl O’Neill in the Sphinx goal came out quickly to make a fine save with his legs.
Continuing to push forward, Simeon Lawrence, who enjoyed an excellent second half, threaded the ball in behind the right-back for Johnson to drill a low cross into the six-yard box but a defender managed to clear the danger before Dillon could get to it.
A Romans equaliser seemed only a matter of time away, but in the 67th minute Sphinx doubled their lead when Rocester made a mess of a free kick.
Having carelessly lost possession, Sphinx broke forward and after Froggatt pushed Wilks’ initial effort onto the post Matthew Bannister was on hand to bundle it over the line.
Ten minutes later Rocester were back in contention when Dillon got in behind the defence and skipped round O’Neill before slanting the ball into the net.
It made for a big finish and although Rocester pressed hard they could not find a second goal.
Their best efforts came in the closing seconds when O’Neill made two good blocks and a fine diving save to grab hold of Lawrence’s shot.
GOALS: Dillon 77 (Romans); Wilks 40, Bannister 67 (Sphinx ).
ROMANS: Froggatt, Beardsley, Hayes, Spencer, Grice, Daley (Jones 74), Lawrence, Johnson, Gough (Cooper-Richards 57), Dillon, McAdams. Subs not used: Skidmore, Smith.
SPHINX: O’Neill, Sullivan, Hill, Dyke (Bilic 70), Fowler, Fletcher, Slinn (Galdins 56), Bannister, Wilks, Rhodes, Jackson (Webb 76). Subs not used: Sockett, Wright.
BOOKINGS: Romans – Daley. Sphinx – Sullivan, Wilks, Galdins.
REFEREE: L Sinclair (Newcastle).