Rocester 2 v 2 Bridgnorth Town
ROCESTER wasted a golden opportunity to make up some ground at the top of the Midland Alliance when they were held to a draw by Bridgnorth Town at Hillsfield, writes BARRY SMITH.
The Romans were leading 2-0 after half an hour, but the visitors clawed their way back into contention with a goal before the break and deservedly completed their comeback in the final minute of the game.
The two teams had drawn four of their previous five meetings, and with another close game expected it was Rocester who took an early grip when Ryan Grocott fired them ahead after just two minutes with a well-struck free-kick from just outside the area.
It was the perfect start, and the Romans continued to look sharp and move the ball around well.
They were eventually rewarded with a second goal when Carl Allen pumped a free-kick from the right into the area, where Chris Sterling directed a lovely header beyond goalkeeper Chris Crook’s dive and inside the far post.
Sterling almost made it three soon afterwards when, despite the close attention of a defender, he still managed to rifle a shot narrowly past the left-hand post from the edge of the box.
In truth, however, from then onwards the game began to slip from Rocester’s control.
Bridgnorth’s pacey left winger, Anwar Olugbon, used his speed to good effect and almost pulled a goal back after lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Richard Froggatt, who had left his line.
On this occasion, the Romans had players back who still almost managed to make a hash of clearing the ball before Chris McComisky eventually booted it away.
The Romans were not so fortunate in the 37th minute, though, as Olugbon charged down a clearance and raced after the ball.
He got there well before Froggatt and slotted it into the net despite Allen’s best efforts to keep it out as he chased back towards his own goal.
Defensively, Rocester’s back four were looking uneasy and, from a needlessly conceded free-kick on Bridgnorth’s right, they were very nearly punished again when Liam Bood darted forward unchallenged to meet Jason Pike’s ball in with a glancing header that flew just wide.
Rocester seemed to regain some composure after the re-start and should have restored their two-goal advantage on the hour when Mensah Kinch hooked the ball over the bar from close range after Sterling had brought down Grocott’s deep free-kick at the far post.
Jack Langston was also narrowly off target with a long-distance free-kick that dipped over the top.
However, the revival was short-lived as Bridgnorth’s crisp passing and good movement had the Romans chasing around at times.
The visitors struggled to carve out any clear openings as Rocester worked hard to close them down until McComisky misplaced a through ball inside the last 10 minutes which gave Bood a sniff, but the striker skewed his shot well wide.
With time running out, Rocester appeared set to win until, right at the death, they failed to clear their lines and Bood was in the right place to lash the ball high into the net and earn his side a share of the spoils.
ROMANS: Froggatt, Rogers, Allen, McComisky, Johnson (Bullock 24), Swain (Holland 72), Kinch, Langston, Sterling, Ahenkorah, Grocott; subs not used: Perks, Pirrie, Woodward.
TOWN: Crook, Bradburn, Gregory (Buxton 55), Pike, Golding (Torr 90), Hartlebury, Smith, Guryn, Bood, Griffiths, Olugbon; sub not used: Corbett-Evans.
BOOKINGS: Romans — Allen, Bullock, Langston.
REFEREE: J Price (Stourbridge).