A LATE Elliot Rokka penalty ensured that Radcliffe booked their place in the next round of the Lancashire Cup, beating AFC Darwen 1-0 on a smoky Bonfire Night.

Rokka won and converted the penalty with just five minutes to go against the North West Counties First Division North strugglers who took the game to Boro.

The first half was a cagey affair with neither team able to spark into life, though Radcliffe had an early penalty shout turned down when Rokka went down under a challenge.

Boro did eventually manage to carve out a chance when Matthew Crothers’ deflected effort fell into the path of Rokka. The former Tranmere man took his shot first time but keeper James Brindle saved well and half time came with the teams locked at 0-0.

Darwen’s first dangerous opening came in the 52nd minute. Ryan Steele drove at the Boro defence and took a shot on from distance, Ollie Martin saving.

The introduction of substitute Rhys Moseley almost paid immediate dividends as he got to a cross from Javid Swaby-Neavin, Brindle blocking well. The keeper was happy to watch another chance go wide, James Hooper off target after he was played in.

The breakthrough eventually came in the 85th minute. Sam Billington fed Rokka in the box and as he looked to take the ball past Luke Jarrold he was fouled. He stepped up and coolly dispatched the penalty.

That was enough to ensure safe passage into the next round for Jon Macken’s men on a special evening for four Boro players. It was Rick Smith’s 150th game, Ben Wharton’s 250th and Rhys Moseley and Leon Donnelly made their first-team debuts.

On Saturday Radcliffe had got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at home to Stalybridge Celtic.

Wharton netted the only goal of the game from the spot midway through the first half after Liam Ellis was brought down in the box.

The first chance of a game played in dreadful conditions fell to the visitors. Berat Jonathan Ustabasi saw his shot blocked, Ollie Martin gathering.

Ellis blazed over with Boro’s first clear-cut chance, while Celtic should have led when Scott Bakkor played a brilliant ball across the box to top scorer Craig Hobson.

Fortunately for Radcliffe, he crashed against the bar from close range.

Soon after came Boro’s penalty, awarded after Kallum Mantack controlled a long ball,but Ellis nipped in and was brought down in the box.

The reliable Wharton comfortably slotted home from the spot.

Celtic should have drawn level late in the first half but Darius Osei’s shot was stopped on the line by Tyrell Warren.

Chances came at both ends in the second half, with Kingsley Williams firing over and Matty Wolfenden’s lobbed finish sticking in the goalmouth mudbath while Celtic’s Nathan Valentine was denied by Martin and Osei dragged a shot wide.

Though Hooper spurned a chance to make the game safe, Boro held out for the victory.