Don Hill Memorial Trophy
Rocester 3 Gresley 2
By Sam Goldsworthy
High Five From Romans who Retain Don Hill Memorial Trophy
Rocester saw off the tough and competitive threat of a very strong Gresley side to win their final home pre-season friendly 3-2, and with that retain the Don Hill Memorial Trophy.
The Moat men had pretty much dominated the first half but a goal from a former Gresley favorite in Kieran O’Connell just before half time, against the run of play, saw the Romans lead at half time.
Pearson Mwanyongo had got Gresley back into the game just after half time but two quick fire goals from substitute Oli Roome saw off the threat with Gresley only managing to get one goal back from Captain Jamie Barrett to narrow the deficit.
This latest win means the Romans have now won five out of five games so far in pre-season, with just one more warm-up game to come this Saturday against Hilton Harriers.
Rocester lineup for this game on damp conditions with Adam Binks in goal. A back four consisted of Frost, Lynch, Allen & a trialist, with a midfield four of Brockley, Wesson, Szondi and Ritchie-Smith. New addition Kieran O’ Connell and Ryan Griffin started up front, with Matt King, Callum Riddell and Oli Roome dropping to the bench.
Gresley enjoyed much the better of the first half but Rocester did have a couple of chances in the first five minutes. Joe Brockley tired his luck from well outside the box but it went well over, before Ritchie-Smith also tried to place one into the top right corner. Again this attempt high and wide but a lot closer than the first effort.
The first chance for the visitors came on seven minutes with Mwanyongo placing an effort wide of the left-hand post.
Moments later Rocester were up the other end of the pitch with Ryan Griffin firing over the bar, but from that point it was Gresley who took control. Efforts from Ryan King, Mwanyongo and Tom Manship all had the potential to break the deadlock but none thankfully for the Romans were taken successfully.
The next big chance for the visitors came on thirty five minutes as Manship's free header went over the bar, a real let-off for the Romans.
However after all the chances Gresley had it was Rocester who drew first blood. The Romans broke upfield on a counter attack, and a long ball played in Kieran O’Connell who found the ball deflected to him after a couple of blocked efforts. He then showed his class by bending a great effort around the Gresley keeper to make it 1-0 Rocester going into the half time break.
The visitors quickly set about getting an equaliser which they did three minutes into the second half. Mwanyongo saw Romans keeper Adam Binks was well off his line, and made the most of it with an excellent chip over him into the net to make it 1-1.
But Rocester replied with two goals from half time substitute Oli Roome. His first goal came in the 65th when fellow substitute Callum Riddell found the forward in plenty of space inside the box. Roome made the most of the situation calmly slotting the ball under the Gresley keeper’s midriff and into the net.
Roome bagged his second two minutes later, driving into the box and finding the net with a low shot off a post after playing a lovely one-two with Seb Szondi.
Rocester's half-time substitutes certainly made a difference, but Gresley were back in the game almost instantly. The ball was swung in from a free kick on the right and Captain Jamie Barrett had an easy tap in to reduce the deficit and really put the pressure back on Rocester.
Both teams exchanged possession and chances during the final 20 minutes with Rocester’s Riddell and Roome, and Gresley’s Matt Melbourne could have made a difference to the outcome, but it was Rocester who held their lead and skipper Ashleigh Lynch collected the Don Hill Memorial Trophy from Teresa Chell, the late Chairman's daughter..