ROCESTER’S FA Cup dream was ended at the first hurdle after their extra-preliminary round replay at Atherstone Town ended in defeat last Tuesday night.
Disappointingly, the Romans exited with a whimper rather than a bang as they were unable to find a response to Lee Smith’s 31st minute strike which sent Midland Combination side Atherstone through.
Rocester’s early play showed no indications of impending disaster, as Errol Johnson’s right wing cross was met at the near post by Callum Riddell, who fired marginally over in just the second minute of the match.
Brent Upton forced Atherstone keeper Phil Smith into pushing away his long range effort, but Daniel Creaney was guilty of a glaring miss for the hosts when he fired wide from inside the six yard box.
The decisive moment came on 31 minutes when Lee Smith pounced on a loose clearance before turning and shooting for goal, his shot squirming under Romans keeper Richard Froggatt for the only goal of the game.
Riddell did well to direct John Littler’s free kick on target, but that aside the Romans had well and truly had the stuffing knocked out of them by the goal.
They rarely looked like prizing the hosts open after suffering the blow, and when Tom Cooper-Richards latched onto a good through ball from Johnson after the break he was quickly shepherded wide to safety by the Atherstone rearguard.
Rocester threatened sporadically thereafter, but Simeon Lawrence saw his effort charged down by a determined home defence, while Cooper-Richards got the ball stuck under his feet after breaking through.
GOAL: L Smith 31 (Atherstone)
ATHERSTONE: P Smith, Eggleton, Mullings, Everitt, Selvester, Chapman, Culver, Bailey, Creaney, Brindley, L Smith. Subs not used: Rowe, Isherwood, Gray, Blackmore, Leeson.
ROMANS: Froggatt, Beardsley, Littler, Spencer (Gough 90+5), Allen, Upton (Daley 62), McAdams, Johnson, Cooper-Richards, Riddell, Lawrence (Jones 84). Subs not used: Record, W Smith, Skidmore.
REFEREE: A Parker (Coalville).