Rovers secured a first ever win at Imperial Fields on Saturday when goals from Conan Torpey and Nabeel Ghannam gave them a 2-0 win over Tooting & Mitcham Utd.
Tooting started brightly and a dangerous cross from Anuar Ceesay in the opening minutes was well claimed by James Dillon. Rovers gradually grew back into the game and struck the opening goal on seven minutes. Danny Divine was fouled on the right, and from Courtney Swaby’s whipped in cross, Torpey met with a flying header to give Sam Nabbad in the Tooting goal no chance.
Rovers should have increased their lead on ten minutes, a lightning break by Tyler Cox, after we had cleared a Tooting free kick, saw him pick out Max Oldham but he was denied by last gasp defending by Alex Filipe and Isaac Charles. Back at the other end and a weaving run by Elijas Bagdonavicius ended with a shot high over the crossbar.
Tooting should have levelled on 17 minutes, a geat ping by Nabbad found Ceesay, his cross was only half cleared to ex Rovers man Shawn Lyle, but Josh Okpolokpo came from nowhere to block his effort. From the corner Torpey cleared from 5 with 7 hammering the loose ball over the bar.
Torpey poked an effort wide of the right hand post on 19 minutes and Rovers should have increased their lead on 25 minutes but after Liam Holden had picked out Max Oldham, his low cross was just behind the on-rushing Torpey and Swaby. Tooting broke quickly and Lyle shanked an effort wide of the left hand post.
Rovers continued to press and some hands to the pump defending from Tooting was required to keep Rovers at bay. Tooting was almost back in the game on the half hour, Rovers were caught overplaying and a quick break by Bagdonavicius ended with a shot over the crossbar.
Nabbad gathered a dangerous low Cox cross at his near post on 38 minutes and having been on the back foot for much of the first half Tooting thought they had levelled five miuntes before the break. A free kick by Ceesay was deflected high off the Rovers wall and bundled home by Ryan Lopes. However an eagle eyed assistant had spotted a foul on James Dillon and the goal chalked off.
Rovers went in at the break one goal to the good, knowing they had dominated but all too aware of how that single goal lead could easily be wiped out.
Early in the second half and it should have been 2-0, a low Cox cross found Oldham at the back post but rather than drilling his effort goalbound, he dallied on the ball and his attempted lob was cleared off the line by Charles. Torpey found his way into the book on 50 minutes for a foul.
Tooting wee definitely inspired by a stern half time talking to, and were pushing hard for an equaliser but our defence was holding firm and Dillon was relatively untroubled and shortly before the hour Rovers should have increased their lead but after good work by Cox, Torpey was unable to get a shot away.
Divine saw an effort held by Nabbad, and on 63 minutes Rovers made their first change with Torpey making way for Gabriel Odunaike. It proved to be an inspired substitution, a long throw by Divine found Odunaike and his set up let Nabeel Ghannam drive home number two and finally give Rovers some breathing space.
Tooting were lucky to stay with all eleven men on the pitch after a shocking tackle by Dillon Gordon on Cox, and with 15 minutes remaining Cox bought a tidy save out of Nabbad low to his right. Five minutes from time and substitute Markus Marku found Odunaike but his lob went just over the crossbar, and a minute later Ghannam tried his luck but saw his effort drift over the bar as well.
Deep into stoppage time and Tooting almost forced a consolation but a low drive by Raaes Bangura-Williams was superbly saved low down to his left by Dillon, and that was that.
Rovers kept their unlikely survival hopes alive, whilst for Tooting the drop to step 5, for the first time in the clubs history, looks very much on the cards.