Extra-time flourish saves Rozel
ROZEL Rovers retained top flight status after three goals in extra-time saw off plucky St Lawrence at Springfield.
A place in the Premiership was at stake between the clubs who finished one from bottom in the Premiership and runners-up in the Championship.
St Lawrence had more of the play but the game swung Rozel’s way early in extra time with goals from captain Carl de la Cour and George Glithero.
St Lawrence substitute Richard Streets was sent off seven minutes from the finish, following a second caution, and before play restarted manager Martin King was removed from the Saints’ technical area.
Substitute Luke Heynes completed the scoring in the final minute to keep Rovers up and condemn St Lawrence to Championship football again next season.
Rozel manager Jody MacCarthy said: ‘We’ve survived, but only just. Credit to St Lawrence, I thought they were very good tonight.
‘This result is massive for the club, it seems like the division is shrinking every year and to fall out of it after working so hard over recent years would not have been good.
‘We’ve got to keep building, keep everyone fit, maybe find a few additions and hopefully try and do a bit more next season.’
Both sides fought hard for midfield supremacy and St Lawrence almost profited from an own goal, but Rozel stopper Jonny Le Blancq reacted well to keep out a deflected effort off colleague Bradley Russell.
Rozel got joy from balls into the penalty area but St Lawrence defenders Ali McDonald, Carlos Quintal and Joao Antunes were always first to cut out any threat.
Ricky Figueira was well positioned on the back post to put St Lawrence ahead, but a fine challenge from Tom McLachlan denied him shortly before half-time.
Figueira, who was lively, twice forced saves out of Le Blancq before Ivan De Freitas produced a strong right hand to prevent Tom McAlister netting at the other end.
Substitute Streets used his pace to unnerve Rozel at times, and Elliot Sweet’s cross from the right skimmed Rozel’s crossbar.
Joao Antunes produced a fine effort from 35 yards only for Le Blancq to dive low to his left to push it away.
De la Cour nodded Rozel ahead in the second minute of extra time and seven minutes later Glithero, who got lucky with the rebound in a tackle, guided the ball inside the far right-hand upright to make it 2-0.
After Streets’ and King’s departures Heynes thumped home Rozel’s third from eight yards.
King said: ‘Football is all about taking chances, and we didn’t.
‘I thought we were by far the better team apart from a couple of good periods Rozel had – their goalkeeper was man-of-the-match.
‘We did everything we could have done and football can be a cruel game sometimes.
‘We should have had a penalty in the first half. Ricky Figueira was cautioned for diving after he was tripped having gone round three players.
‘It’s a shame we are not going up, as the players have worked so hard. I’m sure the football we play would enhance the Premiership.
‘We are a work in progress, the club is in good shape, we’ll take this knock and look to go again next year, which is the club’s 100th.’
Rozel: Jonny Le Blancq; Kris McAdam, Carl de la Cour, Dan Huelin (Ethan Boudin 60), James Begley (Alan Falle 114); Tom McLachlan, Bradley Russell (Y), Tom Murray (Y), Scott Healey (Luke Heynes 67); Tom McAlister (Y), George Glithero.
St Lawrence: Ivan De Freitas; Joey Brizell (Y, Ash White 104), Ali McDonald, Carlos Quintal, Joao Antunes; Ricky Figueira (Y), Phil Kendall, Nelson De Castro, John Tardivel (Richard Streets 39, YYR), Elliot Sweet; Scott Welsh (Y, Antonio Antunes 67).