Sporting Khalsa 1 v 3 Rocester
HARD working West Midlands Leaguers Sporting Khalsa made Rocester sweat for their passage into the second qualifying round of the FA Carlsberg Vase at Noose Lane on Saturday.
The off-colour Romans never really settled into their usual rhythm but still looked on course for a comfortable win after moving into a two-goal lead 12 minutes into the second half.
However, their opponents pulled a goal back and gave Dave Langston’s side a run for their money in the final 20 minutes only to squander their chances to take the game into extra time.
Both teams showed their attacking intentions inside an end to end opening ten minutes as they each came within a whisker of making an early breakthrough.
Rocester were first out of the blocks when Ryan Grocott’s diagonal run led to Adam Swain firing wide, but Khalsa responded immediately with a looping shot from Ben Love that just dropped over the bar.
Edwin Asante-Ahenkorah’s well-struck 20-yard effort was comfortably held by Khalsa’s No 1 Jamie Wood, and just moments later at the other end Rocester had to thank their own stopper Richard Froggatt for a fine double save to block from Sam Whitehurst and Aaron Hills.
The chances continued to arrive as Wood blocked Grocott’s effort low to his left, and Asante-Ahenkorah saw his follow-up deflect off a defender’s legs for a corner.
Once again Khalsa gave as good as they got, and after Froggatt misjudged a long through ball Whitehurst nipped in to take the ball but could only hook his shot inches wide of the far right post.
Inevitably, after such a frenetic start the game settled down to more normal levels, and it was Rocester who found a cutting edge after half an hour when Chris Sterling clipped the ball over the Khalsa defence for Asante-Ahenkorah to race clear, and he coolly lobbed the bouncing ball over the stranded keeper into the net.
Rocester started the second half with a bit more urgency in their play, and Asante-Ahenkorah was denied a second goal by Wood who saved with his legs.
Yet there was more trouble for the Romans at the back when Hills escaped the grip of Wayne Johnson and closed in on goal.
Froggatt got down well to take the sting out of Hills’s initial effort, and Carl Allen hooked the ball away from in front of the goal before any of the home forwards could strike.
Some good football from Rocester in the middle of the park saw Joe Rogers send the ball forward to Sterling, whose first-time pass sent Swain through on goal.
Swain duly knocked the ball past Wood before tapping it into the empty net to put the Romans two up.
Just under 10 minutes later Brad Lawley got on the end of a corner inside the six-yard box to head Khalsa back into the game, and Rocester had to survive a few nervous moments as they went for an equaliser.
A double substitution saw Nick Ward and Rob Perks come on to give Rocester some fresh legs in midfield, and they were both instrumental in setting up good chances for Sterling and Asante- Ahenkorah, who both narrowly missed the target as the Romans missed chances to kill the game off.
A big finish from the home side had Rocester on edge as corners and free kicks were pumped into the area.
Josh Jones followed a good run on the right with a driven low cross that was booted over his own crossbar by Joe Rogers, and a last ditch block by Johnson right at the death ensured that it was Rocester who go through to a home tie in the next round against Midland Combination outfit Castle Vale JKS.
GOALS: Lawley 66 (Khalsa), Asante-Ahenkorah 31, Swain 57 (Romans).
KHALSA: Wood, Williams, Holdcroft (Thomas 85), Ellis, Radford, Darby, Love, Lawley, Whitehurst (Habbershaw 57), Hills, Jones.
Subs not used: Turner; Thompson; Barrett.
ROCESTER: Froggatt, McComisky, Rogers, Johnson, Swain (Perks 67), Allen, Langston (Ward 67), Holland, Sterling, Asante- Ahenkorah, Grocott. Subs not used: Bullock, Smith, McLeod.
REFEREE: S Simpson (Stoke-on-Trent).