Top-of-the-table Long Eaton United’s unbeaten run finally came to an end on Saturday as an injury-time penalty saw Rocester claim a 3-2 win at Grange Park.
The hosts had gone 15 games without losing to start the season in fine style, but despite giving a debut to former Republic of Ireland international and experienced striker Clinton Morrison, they were unable to salvage anything from this encounter.
Morrison showed signs of the quality that had seen him star for the likes of Crystal Palace, Coventry City and Sheffield Wednesday, but perhaps didn’t see enough of the ball to do any real damage to the visitors who are struggling lower down the table.
United began well and created the first real opening as Theo Smith did well down the right but Ben Watkiss in the middle was unable to connect with his cross.
Mark O’Brien in United’s goal did well to push a Rob Smith 30-yarder over the bar on 20 minutes, before Dan Brown saw an effort deflected over the bar by Long Eaton defender Ross Parker.
The hosts’ David Boafo hit a long-range and swerving effort wide on half-an-hour, whilst Morrison’s curler moments later was blocked out for a corner.
After a goalless first-half, the game suddenly came to life in the second.
Dominic Allen put a shot wide for Long Eaton early on as Long Eaton took control and the lead was theirs on 64 minutes when Jermain Hollis’s corner was met by Parker who headed home from ten yards out.
Brad Wells missed a great chance to make it 2-0 as he was denied by the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation, and it proved key as Rocester levelled on 75 minutes, Rob Ritchie-Smith firing home after United hadn’t cleared a free-kick.
Smith had a shot well saved for United and Ritchie-Smith was inches wide at the other end, but Rocester did go in front when Brown flicked home a cross at the near post to make it 2-1.
That woke United up again and with four minutes of normal time left they drew level again as a cross found Hollis who took the ball down and set himself up for a fine shot from just inside the box which made it 2-2.
The drama didn’t end there, however, and it would be Rocester who would steal the points in stoppage time as sub Tom Cooper-Richards mis-controlled the ball in the penalty area and brought down Sam Griffiths.
The referee pointed to the spot and Ritchie-Smith stepped up to fire the ball low to O’Brien’s right and seal the win with just seconds of the match remaining.