Ladies and gentlemen…ROBBIE GOODMAN!
Rovers capitalise on some late ill-discipline to snatch dramatic victory at Hillgrounds with scenes of wild jubilation among the home fans.
The night started brightly for Rovers and could nearly have been opened with a goal as Luke Heneghan’s early cross-cum-shot narrowly evaded the far post. It was the visitors that took the lead, however in the seventeenth minute when a free kick was pumped long into the box and met by the head of Hayes captain Spyros Mentis, who found the top corner with his header. All the Hayes players joined the celebrations with the hardy bunch of visiting fans at the pitch-side fence. Ten minutes later, Hayes should’ve doubled their lead when neat interplay on the edge of the box between the two Ehuis led to Joakim hitting the bar with a rising effort. With half an hour gone, Duncan Culley showed the first signs of poor discipline for the visitors, lashing out at Hateley Mercer after the pair tangled. The referee chose not to act on this occasion. Two minutes later, Culley was booked for leading with an elbow for a headed challenge. Luke Heneghan ended the half as he began it, narrowly missing the frame of the goal with a long range cross shot. The visitors went in one goal up at the break.
Hayes were forced into a change at the break with keeper Jack Smith being withdrawn for Luke Daley. Smith was in visible amounts of pain in the first period when forced to kick long, the damage was evidently done in the warm up according to the player. Rovers made sure that the new keeper’s first job was to pick the ball out of the net as a driven free kick skimmed off a head and into the back of the net. Jake Newman is officially credited, however there was a suspicion that it may have been a Hayes defender who got the telling touch. What mattered most was the goal itself, one all. Just on the hour, Kempston had a glorious chance to nudge infront, an Ash Fuller corner found the head of Seb Simpson, who couldn’t quite get the angle right and put the header wide. Moments later, Hayes were in front again, Rovers play broke down in the middle of the park and the ball fell fortuitously to sub Andrew Ofosu, who went one on one with Martin Conway. The Rovers shot-stopper got hands to the effort, but the ball bounced back off the forwards legs and into the net for two one. Hayes players all converged on the pocket of fans behind the goal and celebrated wildly. Rovers lifted the tempo with the introduction of Nathan Tshikuna from the bench and he had a shot saved with fifteen minutes left. Simpson and Fuller were shown yellow cards as the half wore on and frustrations built. Tshikuna nearly lifted the lid on all that, when he turned and volleyed on goal late on, his effort went agonisingly over the bar, had it gone in, the skill and the turn involved would’ve surely ended the goal of the season contest there and then. Kempston continued to press and in the last minute of normal time, sub Jamaine Ivy was brought down while surging through by Mentis, who was booked for his troubles. The free kick was right of center, perfect for an Ash Fuller special. Daley in goal had to stretch fully across his area to palm the free kick away, but to his misfortune, only as far as Jake Newman, who needs no invitation to score from less than six yards out. Two all, but Rovers were not content with the point. In time added on for the numerous lengthy stoppages in play, sub Michael Lyon was moving forward down the wing, when he was unceremoniously brought down by Hutchins. The defender was book and the free kick was given just outside the corner quadrant. The ball was whipped in across the face of goal and went as far as the back post where Robbie Goodman was on hand to rise like a proverbial salmon and nod Rovers into ecstasy. The defender wheeled away in joyous celebration, joined by all his team mates and the Rovers fans.
The win lifts Rovers into sixth place in the table, with games in hand on some of those above. On Saturday, the team is away at Beaconsfield Town.