Saturday 22nd August 2015
Midland Football League Premier Division
Rocester 3 Hereford 4
Rocester fans must have thought they were dreaming at Hillsfield on Saturday when the Romans raced into a three-nil lead inside the opening 15 minutes against the newly-formed Hereford, but those dreams turned into a nightmare when the visitors turned the game on its head with four goals in the last half-hour, including an equaliser four minutes from time and a penalty winner deep into stoppage time.
The home side’s misery was completed in the closing moments when influential skipper Tom Land, who conceded the last-gasp spot-kick, was ordered off along with Hereford’s Tony James for an ill-tempered altercation following a poor tackle.
It all started so magnificently as Rocester’s high-energy opening caught the visitors cold. Troy Carty made the most of a mis-understanding between full-back Joel Edwards and goalkeeper Harvey Rivers to nick the ball away, and with Rivers way out of position Carty squared the ball across the goal to Karl Demidh who gleefully steered the ball home.
Just five minutes later Demidh was on the scoresheet again with a great finish as the Romans broke quickly following a Hereford corner. The striker had space to run into on the left before clipping the ball expertly over Rivers from at least 20 yards.
Incredibly, with just 13 minutes on the clock it was 3-0, this time Josh Williams applied the finishing touch as the visiting defence again went missing, looping the ball up and over the unfortunately stranded Rivers.
Demidh fired another effort straight into the midriff of Rivers and Williams drilled another wide of the target as Rocester continued to dominate, and although Hereford began to see more of the ball in the period leading up to half time the Romans held their lead comfortably to the whistle.
Torrential rain during and just after the break had the 300-plus crowd heading for cover, but the weather failed to dampen Hereford’s spirit. As Rocester sat back the Bulls controlled possession, and they pulled a goal back in the 61st minute through Pablo Haysham, who netted from Adam Page’s pull-back.
The 200 or so visiting supporters were suddenly lifted, and the belief that they could get something from the game was evident as Hereford pushed the Romans deeper. John Mills sent a header wide of Richard Froggatt’s goal, but he made no mistake from close range in the 74th minute when Rocester failed to clear the ball properly.
Rocester had given everything in terms of effort but were visibly tiring as Hereford maintained their momentum in search of a late equaliser, and sure enough they got it with just four minutes of normal time remaining. The Romans had plenty of players back, perhaps too many as their backs-to-the-wall efforts looked like they may hold on for the win, but a clever dummy let Nathan Hughes in behind and he slotted the ball past Froggatt to level things up.
Carty’s angled shot wasn’t far away from giving Rocester the lead again as they made a rare break, but that wasn’t it.
Urged on by their vociferous fans the Bulls pushed for a winner themselves and they got it in controversial circumstances four minutes into stoppage time. Hughes darted into the area and was tackled by Froggatt as he was about to shoot, however Potteries referee Scott Simpson had spied a push on the striker prior to Froggatt’s tackle and pointed to the penalty spot. It looked a harsh decision but there was no going back and the Romans were flattened when Rob Purdie stuck it into the net.
Scorers: Romans – Demidh (6) (11), Williams (13). Bulls – Haysham (61), Mills (74), Hughes (86), Purdie (90+4 pen).
Romans: Froggatt; Wadsworth; D.Allen; Land; Mottershead; Griffiths; Martin; Ritchie-Smith; Williams (Rushby 70); Demidh; Carty. Subs not used: C.Allen; Nutt.
Bulls: Rivers; Gwynne (Oates 72); Edwards; Lee (Hughes 46); James; Summers; Wheatley (Bonella 46); Purdie; Mills; Haysham; Page. Subs not used: Haines; Moriera.
Red Cards: Romans – Land (90+5). Bulls – James (90+5).
Referee: Mr. S. Simpson (Stoke-on-Trent).