WORCESTER City’s Midland Football League Cup quest ended with penalty shootout heartache at Romulus.

The last-eight tie was decided by sudden-death spot-kicks with the Roms progressing 7-6 after both teams scored four from the first five.

City, initially drawn at home before the tie was reversed, fell behind after eight minutes when Luke Keen’s low driven cross from the left was converted by ex-Bromsgrove Sporting midfielder Max Loveridge.

Romulus had the better of an open, fast-paced first half but Worcester rallied and brushed the crossbar through Aaron Basford’s cross-shot, while Ethan Moran shot straight at keeper Reiss Wagstaff a minute before the break.

Despite conceding more territory, City carried the greater threat on the break in the second half with Liam Lockett walloping the crossbar from 20 yards after a trademark jinking run.

The game appeared to be petering out until Lockett released James Lemon down the left of the box and the striker rattled in off both posts despite close attention from his marker with five minutes to go.

With no extra-time it went straight to penalties and Lemon had less fortune with the woodwork, hitting the upright from 12 yards before Sam Gilder produced a flying save from Dan Scragg to restore parity.

However, Wagstaff produced a similar stop from Luke English at 6-6 with Theo Llewellyn administering the coup de grace.


This was an open game you could not take your eyes off for the first 70 minutes, even if the tempo dipped a bit after that.

Romulus could, perhaps should have been further ahead early on, but City hit the woodwork twice and spurned big chance of their own.

You could have justified reasons for either side to win with both finding a second wind and having a right go after the equaliser – it was a shame someone had to go out.


Some will question the logic of making so many changes for a quarter-final but when you look at the performance, Worcester’s back-up brigade stepped up to the plate.

Manager John Snape indicated he may have featured more first-team regulars had the injury list not been as long but it should also be remembered that these were the players that got City through to this stage in the first place and they warranted selection.


Romulus had plenty of joy down the sides early on with Harry Harris afforded too much space in the middle to spray to the wings and expose City’s inexperience at full-back.

That was an Achilles heel, although both Riley Keasey and Milo Elmes deserve credit for sticking to their tasks.


With no-one seizing the mantle of first-choice striker, the flexibility of City’s front four played a part in keeping the attack fresh.

Lemon started through the middle but then moved out wide with Kyonn Evans up top later on. Basford and Moran kept popping up in different areas and that unpredictability was heartening, it should give most opponents headaches at this level.


One thing City have gradually gained since drifting away from title contention is a clear identity.

With the pressure alleviated we have seen a more open, expressive side that plays to the strengths of the players they are looking to bring through.

Frustration over not being in the shake-up remains but with the off-field situation at the club as it is, providing the platform for the rookies to come through is the best route to success. In the meantime it is making Worcester good to watch.


MFL CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Romulus 1 (Loveridge 8) Worcester City 1 (Lemon 85) (City lose 7-6 on penalties)

Roms: Wagstaff 7, Degville-Cross 7, Gonzales 7, Fitzpatrick 7, Lee 7.5, Llewellyn 7.5, Winwood 7, Harris 7, Keen 6 (Jackson, 74, 6), Loveridge 7, E Delaney 7 (Scragg, 90+2, 6).

Unused subs: Dunkley, L Delaney, Herbert.

City: Gwynne 7 (Gilder, 65, 7), Keasey 6, Elmes 6, Hall 6 (English, 20, 6), Fishwick 6, Willis 7, Evans 6, Attoumani 6, Lemon 7, Basford 6.5 (Lockett, 57, 7.5), Moran 6.5.

Unused subs: Harrison, Owusu.

Attendance: 128.

Match rating: 8.

Referee: Niall Nestor, 8.