Former Rovers' striker Coe returns to haunt Spittal
Spittal Rovers 0-2 Rothbury
Former Rovers striker Chris Coe popped up to aid Rothbury’s ongoing League Cup run, sinking his former club in the process.
It was their desire and willingness to keep the ball out at the other end that was equally as important however - the reds repelling wave after wave of second half pressure to setup a 4th Round tie at Premier Division leaders Newcastle Uni.
Former Alnwick Town skipper Tom Macpherson went close early doors when another former Northern League regular, Tony Brown found Coe lurking at the far post.
With time and space, the ball was recycled with Macpherson rising to head just off target. Brown then hit an audacious shot of his own from 40 yards and it took the fingertips of Spittal stopper Stephen Mason to change it’s trajectory at the last second - flicking it away to safety after it had been destined for the top corner.
Mason’s opposite number was another former Seasider - Rob Hodgson. A Robson Cup and promotion winner during his spell between the sticks at Rovers, he registered some fantastic saves on his return, but could also point towards lady luck for his clean sheet come full-time.
One such moment saw a fizzing cross from Marco Lambert somehow saved down low via his back, the loose ball booted clear by the covering Sam Proudlock. Leigh Walker’s creativeness then fashioned a chance for Dimitrijs Paplavskis, but the Latvian failed to make a decent connection with the curling cross, glancing his header just wide of the mark.
The opener arrived via some poor Rovers defending. A lack of communication saw two black & white shirts challenge Michael Old, whose deft flick fell into the path of an unmarked Coe - the striker making no mistake to slot past a helpless Mason. A poor pass back from Walker then saw the Spittal keeper deny Coe a second with a brilliant save via his feet before Kyle Smith swivelled to hit just off target for the visitors. This pressure did eventually come to fruition for Dan Herron’s men when some neat play out wide resulted in Greg Woodburn nudging home a deserved second not long before the interval.
After a dressing down from the Rovers management, their side’s second half performance was in stark contrast to that of the first with manager Scott Mitchell shuffling his pack, introducing teenagers Ben Amers, Craig Bell and Dylan Johnston to the fold. Lambert found Rhys Bloomfield almost immediately after the restart, but Hodgson was more than comfortable at gathering the loose cross from under his crossbar.
He did not appear as comfortable moments later however, when Bell’s breakaway saw him save from an angle. With Hodgson out of position, Amers then unselfishly laid off to Bloomfield for what looked like being a routine finish from six yards only for a monumental stop on the line via Proudlock’s intervention - his thigh somehow preserving the two goal cushion.
At the other end, Mason kept his side in the game with another great save from Coe and with Old lingering, Richard Davison was on hand to clear. Other than an impressive burst forward from Brown, this was to be the last notable attack from the visiting League Leaders with Rovers now firmly in the ascendency. Johnston’s cross from the right saw Amers and Bell link up well again - the latter seeing his shot saved down low by Hodgson. The substitute then reacted quickest to nod Lambert’s resulting corner inches wide.
Further opportunities came late on with Hodgson palming away Amers’ effort before spilling and regathering another. A cross come shot from Johnston then saw the keeper frantically adjusting his feet only for the ball to graze the upright and when Kyle Jeffrey got into a favourable position on the edge of the box to unleash a powerful drive,
Hodgson capped a memorable afternoon with a top class save and with it, a win that continues his side’s impressive form.
Rothbury now travel to Premier Division leaders Newcastle University in the 4th Round. As for Rovers, their season hinges on some massive December fixtures now with a trip to third placed Cramlington United followed by the visits of Whitley Bay SC (2nd) and Blyth FC.