DAVE Shaw’s Rocester were made to pay heavily for their defensive frailties when they came up against free-scoring Wulfrunians at Castlecroft Stadium on Saturday.
The Romans were already five goals adrift before Dan Brown netted a late consolation strike.
Surprisingly, given the eventual scoreline, the opening stages of the match were quite even with both sides struggling to find clear attempts on goal.
Romans keeper Wayne Smith was alert to beat Andrew Thompson in a race to the ball, while Tom Ellerton fired wide for Rocester – and had another shot blocked after latching onto a quick free-kick from Jason Beardsley.
The hosts took the lead with their first real attempt on goal, as Jake Sedgemore’s free-kick took a touch on its way inside Smith’s left-hand post.
Wulfrunians doubled their lead three minutes later when Rocester’s Dan Brown slipped as he was lining up a shot.
The loose ball was hoofed up clear to launch a counter-attack, which Thompson completed by firing into the bottom corner.
The hosts were keeping it much tighter at the back than Rocester, and when Dan Brown met a flick on from Liam Shaw the danger was quickly mopped up by Richard Golding.
The Romans survived a scare when Michael Robertson was left unmarked on the left, only to see his shot skim the crossbar, while Smith made a good stop after Nathan Rose-Laing met Jake Webb’s cross with a close-range header.
The hosts pressed heavily for a third goal before the break, and Smith beat away Scott Stevenson’s shot at the near post.
Romans skipper Carl Allen misjudged a header, but made amends by denying Thompson with an excellent tackle, before Robertson pounced onto the loose ball with a shot which Smith palmed clear.
Having weathered that storm the Romans began the second half with fresh impetus.
Dan Brown headed over from Allen’s looping cross while David Asbury halted Ellerton’s driving run.
However, the visitors’ positive work was undone when Thompson beat Alfie Holland on the right before crossing the ball to Stevenson.
And he capitalised on some static Rocester defending to smash home goal number three.
The fourth goal came in the 66th minute, when Sedgemore converted an almost carbon copy of his earlier free-kick.
Less than a minute later the Wulfrunians skipper completed his hat-trick from the spot after Webb had gone to ground cheaply under a challenge from Allen.
Smith hesitated when a ball when Webb delivered a ball into the box, before redeeming himself with a close-range stop to deny Golding.
But it looked as though a repeat of Wulfrunians’ seven-goal victory in the reverse fixture at Hillsfield earlier in the season could be on the cards.
However, the Romans refused to give up without a fight and Shaw went close at the near post before Dan Brown pulled a goal back two minutes from time.
The striker latched onto a long ball forward before calmly lobbing over the stranded Daniel Tipton.
GOALS: Sedgemore 16, 66, 67, Thompson 19, Stevenson 57 (Wulfrunians). D Brown 88 (Romans).
WULFRUNIANS: Tipton, Griffin, Burd, Sedgemore (Perks 74), Golding, Asbury, Webb, Rose-Laing, Thompson (Haycock 85), Stevenson (Lawley 74), Robertson, Not Used: Skedgel.
ROMANS: Smith, Beardsley, Holland, Whalley, Allen, Wain, Upton (T Brown 65), Ellerton, L Shaw, D Brown, Johnson (Dunlevy 74), Not Used: Littler, D Shaw, Cannon.
STAR MAN: Tom Ellerton – a driving force in midfield which the Romans lacked in other areas of the park.
REFEREE: M Groves (West Midlands).