Alcester Town leave it late to get the better of Earlswood Town
DAN Elwell struck in the second minute of second-half stoppage time as off-the-pace Alcester Town edged out a resilient Earlswood Town outfit 2-1 on Saturday.
It took until the 75th minute for the first goal of the game to arrive at the Stratford Road Ground, with substitute Karl Walker superbly volleying home from Matt Bailey's cross to give the Romans the lead.
The visitors looked to have claimed a point in the 86th minute when Connor Nowaczyk fired in at the back post after the home side failed to deal with a cross from the left-hand side.
However, there would be one final twist in this Midland League Division Two clash as Elwell latched onto a long through ball, rounded Earlswood 'keeper Dan Farr and slotted the ball into an empty net to seal all three points for Alcester.
Victory for the Romans moved them to within a point of sixth-placed Inkberrow, meanwhile the Earls dropped to tenth after succumbing to a third straight league defeat.
The first half was far from a spectacle, with the blustery conditions preventing any chance of long balls being played from the back.
Despite this, the Romans had the better of the opening 20 minutes, with Drew Ricketts seeing two headers from Owen Ward corners well saved by Farr.
However, that was as good as it got for the hosts who really struggled to string passes together, while the visitors failed to even threaten Dominic Cooper-Edwards in the Romans goal.
The big flashpoint of the game arrived in the 37th minute when Leadun Dunlevy put in a late challenge on Danny Williams and escaped with just a yellow card.
Both teams struggled to really get a stranglehold of proceedings after the break, with the conditions once again playing havoc with goal kicks, long passes out from the back and deep through balls.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes it seemed as though both sides were heading for a goalless draw, but second-half substitute Walker made an instant impact when he got on the end of Bailey's pin-point cross and volleyed into the top corner beyond a rooted Farr.
The goal seemed to spark the Romans into life and they looked like they may go on to score a second. However, a lapse in concentration four minutes from time allowed the Earls to draw level, with a cross from the left drifting all the way to the back post where Nowaczyk had all the time in the world to pick his spot and restore parity.
However, the drama was far from over and in the second minute of stoppage time the Romans bagged the decisive goal. From an Earls attack, the Romans countered at speed and the ball eventually found its way to Elwell who showed great composure to round the on-rushing Farr and tap into an unguarded net.
Get this Thursday's Herald for reaction from Romans manager Matt Seeley and Earlswood boss Tom Reynolds.
ALCESTER: Cooper-Edwards, Bailey (Burston-Keeley 75), Edwards, Clarke, Ricketts, Drake-Cervantes (Bird 90+4), Williams, Ward, Elwell, Jones (Walker 55), Hewitt. Unused subs: Faulkner, Walton.
EARLSWOOD: Farr, Nowczyk, Price, Walker (Street h/t), Froggatt, Reynolds, McKenzie, Dunlevy, Matthews, Mulvey, Smith (Hamer 68). Unused subs: Hughes, Palmer, Benjamin.