Rocester 4 v 0 Bewdley Town
CHRIS Sterling’s second-half hat-trick ensured Rocester progressed safely through to the second round of the FA Carlsberg Vase at the expense of a spirited Bewdley Town at Hillsfield on Saturday.
The Worcestershire side, who play one level below Rocester in the Premier Division of the West Midlands League, made the Romans work hard for their win and the £900 prize money, but once Sterling netted the opening goal after more than an hour of deadlock the result was never really in any doubt.
Rocester huffed and puffed their way through a largely uneventful opening 45 that may well have had the Bewdley contingent believing they could at least drag the Romans back to their country retreat for a tricky midweek replay.
Dave Langston’s side struggled to make any headway against the well-organised and sometimes robust visitors, who might even have sneaked an early goal had Dan Sinton not made a hash of a couple of presentable half-chances that appeared to fall on his wrong foot.
Rocester had chances to put their opponents under pressure from a number of free kicks around the penalty area, but the only noteworthy attempt they managed at the visitors’ goal came 30 minutes in when Craig Holland’s rasping 20-yard drive crashed into the advertising boards just wide of the target.
But manager Langston turned things round with a couple of telling alterations to his team’s personnel and formation either side of the interval, which ultimately did the trick.
With Jack Langston and Ryan Pirrie adding bite and numbers to the midfield Rocester steadily wrested the initiative, and as the game was being played more and more inside Bewdley’s half of the field it became a question of whether the Romans could make their extra quality count.
They answered any doubters on 63 minutes when, just as a torrential rain shower began to ease off, Ryan Grocott picked Sterling out with a great diagonal ball in from the right. The striker expertly brought it down before stepping inside a defender and shooting past veteran goalkeeper Darren Steadman from 15 yards.
After waiting so long for a clear-cut opportunity, the Romans quickly worked themselves another one, and barely two minutes later it was Sterling again inside the area with the ball at his feet who did the damage.
This time however, although his shot beat Steadman it came back off the post, allowing Langston the chance to race in and score from point-blank range.
Ten minutes later Langston was able to return the favour after collecting a poor clearance from Steadman.
The youngster homed in on goal but his low drive was superbly saved by the goalkeeper as he tried to atone for his error.
However, he could only push the ball across the goalmouth where Sterling was on-hand to poke it into the gaping net.
Langston continued his personal duel with Steadman shortly afterwards, controlling a loose ball in midfield before string a venomous 25-yarder that the keeper dealt with comfortably, but he could not prevent Rocester from adding a fourth goal in the closing stages.
Sterling was only a few yards over the halfway line when he received the ball, and as he set off towards goal Edwin Ahenkorah’s clever run took a defender out of the way leaving more space for Sterling to exploit. He continued his run into the area before picking his spot with a fine finish to complete his treble.
GOALS: Sterling 63, 76, 85; Langston 65 (Romans).
ROMANS: Froggatt, McComisky, Rogers, Johnson (Langston 41), Bullock, Allen, Ahenkorah, Holland, Sterling (Kinch 87), Nadat (Pirrie 46), Grocott. Subs not used: Swain, McLeod.
BEWDLEY: Steadman, Marriott (Florey 70), Stubbins, Wright, Costello, Webb, Rudd, Watkins (Taffe 80), Hough, Burgess, Smith (Sinton 12). Subs not used: Kilgour, Moule.
YELLOW CARDS: Romans Allen, Bullock, Holland.
Bewdley Stubbins, Watkins, Hough,.
REFEREE: T Hawkins (Belper).