DARWIN Rovers stayed on track for a repeat of last year’s FFA Cup run after a hard fought 1-0 win over Casuarina last night.
Simon Bell’s 31st minute strike was enough to send the Rovers into a May 30 third round clash against Hellenic.
Both sides had early scoring chances, Mark Casimiro’s chip over advancing Rovers goalkeeper Mathew Ashton the best of them in a frantic first five minutes. But the fourth minute chip hit the crossbar, bringing some agonising groans from Casuarina fans in the grandstand, who had stood to applaud what they thought was the opening goal. It was the same at the other end, where Rowdies ‘keeper Georgios Skartados was kept busy from a wave of Rovers attacks.
Rovers wingman William Tamba was a constant threat with his pace, shooting wide in the 18th minute and going close three minutes later with a looping header.
It took a 31st-minute strike from Rovers skipper Simon Bell to break the deadlock, tapping in from close range after another extensive build-up.
Casuarina should have levelled by half-time, Casimiro firing at the goalkeeper twice in a minute after some good through balls from midfielder Reza Passmore, a dominant player for the Rowdies all night.
Dean Molloy’s swerving shot in the 53rd minute that smashed into the crossbar was centimetres away from giving the Rovers a 2-0 lead.
But it was the 71st minute dismissal of Casuarina’s Gordon Pereira for a sliding tackle on opposite No.4 Daniel Smith that brought the game alight.
Pereira reacted to a tackle from behind that brought him down seconds earlier, but it hurt his club because it reduced the Rowdies to ten men against a Rovers side pushing hard for a second goal.
Tamba could have sealed the result in the 85th minute, but his attempt to run down a high ball saw him collide with Rowdies ’keeper Skartados.
Tamba left the ground limping.