Khalsa’s woeful record against teams in the lower reaches of the league continued as a dazzling five minute spell by Romulus’s Josh Cooke laid the foundations for an impressive win for the home side.
For the majority of the game, Roms played with ten men after Theo Llewellyn was dismissed for a collision which saw Khalsa centre-half Shawn Boothe unable to continue. And Roms striker Josh Cooke took advantage of the makeshift defensive pairing with two quite outstanding goals that helped his side to a deserved win.
It looked like being the home side’s day from the outset, a penalty was awarded in the second minute when Khalsa keeper Sam Arnold made a hash of punching a ball into the box and Leon Miles conceded the foul. Luke Keen stepped up and smashed the penalty home.
Cooke signalled his intent on 13 minutes, holding off Miles with his strength and firing a shot on the turn just wide.
Llewellyn was sent off for Romulus on 15 minutes and Boothe’s substitution brought Alex Woodhouse in to fill in at centre-half. Despite Khalsa stepping up the tempo, the Roms defensive ranks held firm in admirable fashion in the glorious Bank Holiday sunshine.
Cooke won the game for the home side in five devastating minutes. On 38 minutes, he meandered into the box, holding off defenders for fun before lashing a fine shot past Arnold to make it 2-0.
Seconds later he fired another effort just wide before, on 42 minutes, he again dribbled into the box and shot on the turn into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 3-0.
With ten minutes stoppage time due to Boothe’s injury, Khalsa mustered a couple of spirited moments. Jay Holdcroft fired just wide before he then turned provider, crossing for Mensah Kinch to put the ball over the crossbar.
The restart saw a flicker of hope for Khalsa as Danny Dubidat sneaked in at the far post to pull one back.
Holdcroft’s header which bounced off the top of the bar on 81 minutes was the closest Khalsa came to getting the second and making a real game of it until deep in stoppage time when a brilliant save by Roms keeper Reiss Wagstaff off a deflection from his own player off Woodhouse’s penetrating cross deep in stoppage time.
Sporting Khalsa: Sam Arnold, Carlo Franco (captain), Alex Melbourne, Shawn Boothe (Alex Woodhouse), Leon Miles, Dave Meese, Mensah Kinch, Liam Armstrong (Kieron Whittaker), Daniel Dubidat (Mykel Beckley), Jay Holdcroft, Gaz Singh. Subs not used: Alex Perry, Remi Birch.