Rockmount will count themselves unlucky today having had much the better of this game, proving (here and elsewhere today) that teams in the upper part of the second division are very much a match for those in the first: Rockmount were as good as anyone we’ve played. That said of course, the key thing about the cup is to remain in it and having a far from easy time of it today will hopefully hold us in good stead for the rest of the campaign. We were short of strikers today with Leon and Craig missing with injury and Sammy away along with Stanton and Lee. However with Olly back to start and Nathan Hylton finally fit enough to make the bench we are beginning to look like a squad.
Rockmount are a more than decent side who I suspect will be on their way up and out of this division. Their pressing was exemplary and their football fast and fluent: I’ve rarely seen our full backs worked quite as hard. In the first half up the slope we struggled to clear our lines and Hunter ploughed a thankless furrow up top with little to feed on. However what we did have is a slice of luck as their defender miskicked a lofted ball through and the presence of mind to take advantage as Olly coolly squared for Ben to tap in. If we’d thought this setback would stem the tide, it was not the case and they kept coming, though ironically we had two further near misses which might have made the scoreline even more unbalanced.
What Rockmount lacked was both the ability to turn great play into real chances (often beating the extra man rather than heading for goal) and a regular keeper (Andrew Oram was filling in today). For us Lee was once again the foundation of our success with a series of regulation saves and then a marvellous tip over from a cracking free kick late on. In front of him Dave, Chris and Mark were solid (as was Maca before his injury in the last minute of the first half). The second half was better for us and Nathan Hylton reminded us of how much we’ve missed him with an energetic performance. Though we were more comfortable, Rockmount kept at it and had a number of efforts. I thought we’d killed it off when Christie hooked in with fifteen to go but within minutes they were back to make the last ten uncomfortable and the final whistle a blessed relief! Referee, Dean Davies, really good today. Good luck to Rockmount for the rest of the season: some really good players: number 4 at the back (‘Walker?) was particularly impressive.