Rocks get better of ten-man Rooks in Sussex derby

Ollie Pearce celebrates after making it 3-0 Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ollie Pearce celebrates after making it 3-0 Picture by Tommy McMillan
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The Rocks took the Sussex bragging rights with a dominant second-half display that earned a 3-1 win against ten-man Lewes.

After a goalless first half that saw Lewes skipper Jack Dixon sent off for retaliating in a clash with Rocks keeper Mark Zawadski, goals by Ben Godfrey, Scott Chamberlain and Ollie Pearce ended their 2013 home programme on a high.

Only a consolation strike by Lewes sub Charlie Penny stopped it from being a perfect Boxing Day for Jamie Howell’s side, who stay seventh with this win - six points off the play-off zone.

The first hint of a chance fell to the Rocks in the third minute when Craig Robson directed a header goalwards from Kane Wills, but it was blocked.

On a lovely crisp and sunny afternoon in front of a decent-sized crowd at the Lane, it was the Rocks doing most of the early attacking and one Arron Hopkinson cross was awkward for visiting keeper Denzal Gerrar.

Lewes threatened on 13 minutes when Nicky Wheeler was sent clear down the left but Paul Hinshelwood timed his challenge perfectly just as he was about to shoot.

The first 20 minutes were fairly cagey, with neither side bringing the opposing keeper into serious action.

Hopkinson seized on a loose pass to run at the Lewes defence and fire in a left-footed shot that was deflected narrowly wide for a corner. Robson put the corner just over and was convinced he had earned another one, but a goal-kick was given.

The Rooks weren’t having too many purposeful attacks but one free-kick was cleared to captain Dixon, who rifled a low shot well wide from 25 yards.

Hopkinson’s high ball to the near post was needlessly spilled by Gerrar and Ollie Pearce nearly took the ball off him, but a Lewes defender got back to clear.

The match exploded into life on 33 minutes when Dixon was red-carded after an incident with Rocks keeper Zawadski. He lashed out at the keeper, with some saying Zawadski had kicked out at Dixon. The Lewes bench were furious with the referee’s failure to punish Zawadski.

That spiced things up a little and tackles flew thick and fast, but still there was little sign of a breakthrough.

One nearly arrived a minute before the break, though, when Godfrey was inches from converting a teasing Hopkinson cross from wide right.

HT 0-0

The Rocks had the first meaningful attack of the second half as Wills sprayed a pass out to Hopkinson, but his cross was too close to the keeper for Godfrey to benefit.

Next it was Hinshelwood’s turn to swing in a cross from the right touchline. It was just under the bar but Gerrar held it.

The Rocks took the lead on 52 minutes and Godfrey made and scored.

He received a pass in the box as the Rocks attacked down the right, played a one-two with Pearce and forced the ball in from close range with the keeper stranded and a desperate defender unable to stop it.

Lewes brought on Andy Pearson in place of Luke Blewdon just before the hour. The Rocks followed suit by replacing scorer Godfrey with top scorer Terry Dodd.

Robson’s surge out of defence almost ended with him having sight of goal but after an exchange of passes with Dodd, he was blocked by a defender.

It was 2-0 on 62 minutes as a quick break saw Pearce speed away down the left with all the time and space he wanted. Dodd missed his cut-back ball across the box but Chamberlain ran on to it and hit a low shot that took a slight deflection to beat Gerrar.

The majority of the crowd of 603 probably felt the Rocks had done the job but Lewes did give them notice it was not over when an attack down the left brought Zawadski rushing out of his goal. He was relieved to see a defender hack the ball away after he failed to gather.

Lewes made another change on 68 minutes, Penny replacing Wheeler.

The Rooks continued to do their best to get back into it but Zawadski - probably much to their consternation - was equal to any effort on goal they could manage.

Chamberlain was close to a second on 72 minutes with a bending left-foot strike that was marginally high and wide.

Lewes’ final change saw Sam Crabb come on for Joel Ledgister.

Pearce wriggled into space in the box on 75 minutes and tried to set up Dodd but a defender’s boot intervened.

James Crane couldn’t get a decent connection when Robson’s header down from a long high cross fell at his feet six yards out.

Eleven minutes from the end, Pearce made sure of the victory when he poked the ball past the keeper following a lovely ball through to him by Wills.

Dan Sackman replaced Chamberlain with ten minutes left - shortly before Chamberlain was named man of the match. A final substitution followed two minutes later, Dan Kempson replacing Hopkinson.

To the Rooks’ credit, they kept going and forced one point-blank save out of Zawadski before sub Penny lashed home from close range for a consolation.

Crane was close to making it 4-1 but his stretch to volley in a Pearce cross at the far post wasn’t quite enough.

Bognor go to Carshalton on Saturday, while Lewes host East Thurrock.

Rocks: Zawadski, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck, John, Robson, Hopkinson, Wills, Godfrey, Pearce, Chamberlain. Subs: Sackman, Dodd, Kempson, Whyte, Murombedzi.

Lewes: Gerrar, Brinkhurst, Gore, Lowett, Austin, M Crabb, Wheeler, Dixon, Blewdon, N Crabb, Ledgister. Subs: S Crabb, Keita, Pearson, Penny, Hendon.

Ref: Mark Griffiths (Halesown).

by STEVE BONE