Rocks Review: Rocks 2 Maidstone 0

0
Have your say

Another Jason Prior double gave the Rocks their fourth straight win and put one of their title rivals to the sword at Nyewood Lane.

The victory - and yet another clean sheet - will have delighted management and fans and put them in good spirits for Tuesday night’s third home game in a week against Faversham.

The Rocks were without Terry Dodd through a hamstring injury but were otherwise unchanged from the 6-0 demolition of Godalming Town in midweek.

The game got off to a flyer in front of the 601-strong crowd, the largest of the season so far in the whole division.

Inside the first minute, good work from Prior and James Crane allowed Steve Harper to find Ben Johnson. But the winger’s cross couldn’t find Prior in the box as Daren Hawkes got there first. The goalkeeper needed treatment after the incident.

Harper won a free-kick after Johnson set him up just outside the box. Johnson’s cross was deflected clear by Danny Lye.

On six minutes Crane had the ball in the net after he slid in to try to win the ball off Hawkes, who went to ground to gather. But the referee had already blown for a free-kick for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Johnson’s right-sided cross was aimed at Crane on the back post but Tom Osborne got there first to head back to his keeper from close range.

The Stones’ first attack came down the right flank as Baff Addae beat his marker but his cross fell straight into the arms of Craig Stoner.

After just nine minutes Ben Andrews had to come off injured. Chris Breach slotted in beside Stuart Axten in defence in his place.

Sam Bewick then latched on to a right-sided cross. His ball found Alex Waugh in the box but the striker headed wide.

On 15 minutes, Dan Beckwon another free-kick. Harper’s curling cross was headed high by Axten but Hawkes gathered it as the defender rose to try again.

Five minutes later Johnson went to ground on the left and won a free-kick. Johnson’s delivery was decent and Harper appeared to be pulled back by a defender inside the area – though appeals were ignored by the referee.

James Pinnock caused problems moments later when he ran down the byline but as he approached the goal Bognor’s defenders just managed to keep him out. The resulting corner fell to Pinnock again and he beat his marker before striking low from a tight angle, forcing Stoner to use his legs to divert the ball.

Then Crane’s cross was just too strong for Johnson in the area.

Harper’s corner fell to Crane on the edge of the area. Crane, having scored three goals in his last two games, let fly with a shot but Osborne slid in, causing a deflection that spun the ball over the bar.

Crane soon got in another strike at goal but it was gathered comfortably by Hawkes.

But the Rocks took the lead just three minutes later. A neat through ball set up Harper and with just the goalkeeper to beat, the striker’s shot was blocked by the outstretched left leg of Hawkes.

The deflection fell to Crane, who directed the ball back across the area where Prior was waiting to smash home with his right boot.

Seconds later Harper skied another shot from long distance well over the bar.

In first-half stoppage time, Crane did well to reach the ball before cutting back to Johnson to cross, but it was cleared.

HT 1-0

The second half started at a fierce pace, with Bognor taking the initiative in the first ten minutes.

On 55 minutes Prior swung his boot at the ball on the rise, but it swerved wide of the post.

Addae did well to outpace Beck down the right but his flash of a cross flew across the face of goal before going off for a goal kick.

The Stones hit Rocks on the counter-attack as Bewick threaded Green in on the right. Green crossed high into the box for Pinnock but Axten rose as well to deflect it for a corner.

Kane Wills’ chipped pass aimed at Prior was inadvertently headed at Hawkes by Lye.

Prior ran on to a long pass down the right as Lye failed to control it. He chose to thread in Johnson on the run but the winger couldn’t finish.

A Johnson corner forced Hawkes into a one-handed save and the loose ball was deflected off the line by Tommy Mills.

With 20 minutes left, Stoner was under pressure from a multitude of corners but he finally managed to gather a cross from Bewick.

Addae clashed off the ball with Axten before a goal-kick and appeared to go to ground easily, spurring complaints from the home fans. He called for treatment from the physio.

Rocks fans were bemused by a decision to award a free-kick against Beck.

Wills ran towards goal and eventually played in Prior, who would have been disappointed to see his shot deflect off the back of team-mate Harper and off for a goal-kick.

The Stones had their best chance of the half soon after when Waugh looped a header just below the bar, but Stoner saved it confidently.

The Rocks got that all-important second on 78 minutes. Prior slid in on a low Johnson cross to score.

Chances still came in the final ten minutes. Crane ran in on a long ball down the right and was tripped by Lye, who received a yellow card. Many would argue it could have been a sending-off as the player was the last man. Johnson took the free-kick from the corner of the box, curling his shot narrowly over the bar.

Crane beat Mills to the ball before passing back to Beck, but the midfielder smashed well over from 25 yards.

Bewick hit a shot on the bounce in an ambitious attempt but it bounced well wide of the post.

The last clear attempt for the Rocks came when Crane set up Harper. The striker spun instantly before shooting but his effort sailed narrowly over the bar.

So that’s 16 goals without reply in four games in the past fortnight for the Rocks. But with Dulwich Hamlet above them in equally good form, Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s men know they need to continue in the same vein against on Tuesday (7.45pm).

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Crane, Axten, Andrews (Breach), Beck, Wills, Prior, Harper, Johnson

Unused subs: Bond, Blatchford, Sackman, Boyle.

Report by LIAM GOODLEY