ROCKS REVIEW: Rocks 2 Faversham 0

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Another clean sheet and three points preserved the Rocks’ one-point lead at the top of the table as they gained revenge for their 4-0 ten-man defeat at Faversham.

This time it was Faversham’s turn to have a man sent off and the Rocks never looked like taking anything less than a victory with a solid performance.

Wins for Met Police and Whitehawk leave them one and five points behind the Rocks respectively ahead of Tuesday night’s tough trip to Ramsgate.

Luke Nightingale secured the win over Faversham with his 100th goal for the club after Jason Prior opened the scoring with a first-half penalty.

The Rocks were still without Michael Birmingham in the starting line-up, but he was on the bench. James Fraser was missing because of a dislocated shoulder he picked up in training.

Perry Ryan was switched forward to midfield, with Matt Whitehead and James Crane filling the full-back positions.

Bognor showed their spirit from the start with Ben Johnson’s neat one-two move with Dan Beck, but Beck was blocked off in midfield.

Then Johnson managed to get in the box and the ball fell to Nightingale, but his instant shot was blocked.

The impressive Johnson sped through into the box again and went to ground under a challenge but the referee waved away any chance of a penalty.

At the other end Tim Bond had to deal with an awkward high bouncing ball to head back to Craig Stoner. Damian Abel was making a nuisance of himself but Bond stayed calm to deal with the danger.

Faversham went close on 12 minutes. After a free-kick on the left, Ashley Brown swung his boot at the ball to try to get a shot at goal. But first he scuffed his attempt and the second chance was blocked stoutly by Stuart Axten.

The visitors had another chance on 14 minutes. Justin Ascheri latched on to a throw in by Shane Hamshare. Ascheri threaded the ball through to Jack Baldwin, but his shot from long distance was well-saved by Stoner to his right.

On 16 minutes Johnson was brought down in the box by a defender. The linesman indicated a foul and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Jason Prior, who made no mistake, driving the ball low into the bottom left corner beyond the outstretched Simon Overland.

The Rocks were winning plenty of corners but couldn’t turn one into a second goal.

Abel went down and required treatment after appearing to be in considerable pain. But he got up seconds later, much to the aggravation of the home crowd.

On 27 minutes a lofted free-kick by Dane Luchford was headed clear.

Perhaps the visitors’ best chance of the whole game came on 32 minutes. Abel outpaced Axten and pulled the ball back beyond the sliding Bond. He cut inside the area to have a shot which beat Stoner, but Ryan was on the line to head away.

Luchford disagreed with the award of a Bognor corner and confronted the referee with abusive language. He was shown a straight red.

From the corner, Nightingale back-heeled the ball goalwards in the scramble. It was somehow deflected clear despite claims it had crossed the line.

Johnson swerved a shot over the bar from the corner of the box.

Then Beck was muscled to the ground unfairly. Johnson’s curling free-kick fell to Prior in the box but he glanced his header the wrong side of the right post.

The energetic Whitehead powered forward to link up with Johnson. But the winger’s cross went out for a goal kick.

The last chance of the half fell to Bognor. Beck switched the ball to the right for Crane. The full-back crossed to the back post for the waiting Whitehead, but his attempt sailed over the bar.

HT 1-0

The officials inexplicably came out around four minutes late for the second half.

On 51 minutes, Johnson found Crane on the right. Crane placed a pass through to Nightingale, who was also in space, but he was flagged for offside.

Johnson outpaced Hamshare on the left to whip in a cross along the face of goal. But it was too much for Nightingale.

Superb tracking back by Whitehead stopped Abel as Faversham tried for an equaliser and Stoner gathered.

Beck smashed a shot from long-distance that was always rising and flew over the bar.

A farcical incident happened on 61 minutes. The Rocks had been awarded a throw after Hamshare had kicked the ball out. The referee asked for the throw to be taken again after he was unhappy with the original throw’s positioning, but in the end Faversham were allowed to throw the ball in themselves, much to the surprise of the home support.

A fierce free-kick was spun in by Baldwin and Stoner had to palm the ball out from the heart of the box and his defenders cleared.

As soon as he came on, substitute Dan Royce was straight into the action. He managed to control the ball on the edge of the area to have a shot but his half-volley was straight at Overland.

But Bognor did score again on 69 minutes. Kane Wills’ cross from the left saw Nightingale rise above two defenders to loop a header into the net - his 100th goal for the club.

Bognor wanted a third and Nightingale flashed a shot wide before Johnson committed Overland into a good save with a dipping shot.

Then Whitehead, who’d had a good game at left-back, did well to get a cross in from the left. But Prior failed to get anything on it.

The Rocks’ two central defenders both went close on 79 minutes after two superb corners by Johnson.

The first fell on to the head of Bond, whose attempt was blocked for another corner, then Axten nodded the ball on to the bar.

With less than ten minutes remaining, Beck took a corner from the left but Prior placed his header over.

Faversham looked a beaten side and a rare attack led to Sam Gore scooping in a high cross which Stoner held.

Beck might have added to the score for the Rocks. After being blocked initially, he did manage to get a shot at goal but Overland was equal to his second attempt.

ROCKS: Stoner (10), Crane (9), Whitehead (9), Wills (9), Axten (10), Bond (9), Beck (9), Ryan (9) (Royce), Prior (9), Nightingale (9), Johnson (10) (Turner). Unused subs: Marzetti, Wood, Birmingham.

LIAM GOODLEY