Rocks Review: Rocks 4 Eastbourne Town 0

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The Rocks improved home form was in evidence again as they brushed side Sussex rivals Eastbourne Town.

Two goals from top scorer Jason Prior and one apiece from Terry Dodd and Kane Wills made it nine goals without reply in their past two home matches and cemented their third spot in the table.

The Rocks - who gave a debut to new signing Ben Andrews, the ex-Horsham and Worthing utility player - are now just four points behind leaders Maidstone.

Tim Bond was absent from the team sheet, but Stuart Axten returned from suspension and Prior came back after being rested in midweek at Leatherhead.

After just two minutes Wills found space in Eastbourne’s half - his pass was left by Prior, who tried to give Ben Johnson the ball but the attack broke down. Shortly afterwards Steve Harper struck wide.

Then Harper swirled in a cross for Prior but the striker headed wide.

Johnson curled in a ball from the left with Prior on the end of it again. But Kieron Thorpe was in his way to save.

At the other end Craig Stoner easily gathered a low shot from ex-Rock Scott Kirkwood.

Another attempt by the visitors saw a free-kick from inside Bognor’s half from Nathan Crabb headed wide by his team-mate Matt Geard.

The Rocks took the lead in the ninth minute. Another move down the left by Johnson allowed the winger to curl in a cross straight onto the head of Prior who made no mistake in diverting the ball low into the bottom corner.

On 13 minutes Harper fed Jon Marzetti on the right and he hit a searching cross into the area – but Thorpe gathered.

Kirkwood won the ball from Harper’s poor pass. His cross was blocked by Chris Breach and the ball rolled off for a corner which came to nothing.

Andrews powered in a cross but none of his fellow players was present in the box.

Johnson’s left-sided corner couldn’t be headed by Prior or Axten as both rose in the area. They managed to win a second corner, but it was cleared.

On 25 minutes Johnson tried to round Nytram Dixon-Baker near the edge of the box and went to ground. The defender seemed to tug the winger down but the referee ignored the claims for a free-kick.

In a physical first half, Sonny Cobb had to be replaced through injury and moments later Andrews launched into a hard tackle with Kirkwood and both required treatment.

Andrews was involved in the action again when he smashed a powerful shot which rose and went over the bar.

Ex-Rock Richard Greenfield swirled in a cross but found no teammate.

Prior cleverly diverted the ball towards the net from an Andrews cross with his back to goal. But Thorpe was grateful as it fell straight into his arms.

Crane and Johnson combined down the left flank to set up Harper who poked his shot wide.

Thorpe got down well to stop a decent left-footed shot from Harper after the forward was set up by Crane.

Again the Crane-Johnson combination worked, allowing the former to get into space. But his shot was high and wide.

On 43 minutes Breach went down under a challenge. He received treatment for at least three minutes and eventually headed off with a gash to his forehead, with blood pouring down his right cheek. Breach was replaced by Terry Dodd.

Nine extra minutes were added on at the end of the first half because of the various injury hold-ups.

Crane went close with a run and shot, though it bounced wide from 30 yards

Johnson’s pinpoint corner found Dodd on the back post. But with pressure from a defender his header was deflected wide of the post.

The last chance of the half came when Crane powered in a cross for Prior, unmarked on the back post. The striker headed it down but Thorpe was equal to it. Then Prior got on the end of another corner but headed wide.

HT 1-0

Eastbourne had the first half chance after the restart when Greenfield turned inside the Rocks area after controlling a high ball from midfield. But he skied his shot well over the bar.

Impressive captain Dan Beck beat Danny Simmonds to the ball before letting fly with a fierce shot from the edge of the D. He forced a double-handed save from Thorpe.

The Rocks extended their lead in the 53rd minute. Prior slipped in a ball for Dodd, who beat his marker for pace before belting it home.

On 56 minutes Harper teed up Wills who lofted the ball into the box where Prior was waiting. The striker got his head to it but Thorpe saved.

Dodd spotted Crane on the overlap and he ran into the box. Dixon-Baker appeared to haul the player down, but despite cries for a penalty from players and fans alike, the referee waved away calls for a spot-kick.

On the hour, Jon Marzetti’s effort had to be tipped over the bar by Thorpe and shouts for handball were ignored by the referee from the resulting corner.

Good play from Beck, Johnson and Prior set up Harper on the right, but his cross flew off for a goal kick.

Marzetti won a corner and Harper’s delivery found Andrews, who headed towards goal, but Steve Elliott was on the line to clear.

Johnson did well with 20 minutes left to win a corner from a deflected shot. Johnson’s corner found Prior in the box and he nodded the ball low into the net to put Rocks 3-0 up.

Two minutes later Crane won a free-kick. The kick, taken by Harper, was instantly cleared as Thorpe advanced out of his goalmouth.

Johnson chose to cut inside before beating his marker and shooting from distance, but his effort bounced just wide of the right post.

Bognor got their final goal of the day on 76 minutes when a neat passing move ended with Wills firing low beyond the outstretched arm of Thorpe from inside the area (pictured at the top of the article by Tommy McMillan).

On 83 minutes it should have been five when Dodd and Johnson partnered to find Prior in space in the box. But he skewed his shot high and just wide when a low shot would have been better.

Matt Geard went closest for the visitors in the second half. However, his curled shot missed the target.

Johnson tried his luck from 35 yards but hid shot sailed well wide of the right post.

The Rocks had the last chance. Johnson’s cross was headed across the area by Prior and Harper followed up on the volley – only to see his attempt flash over the bar from just outside the six-yard box.

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti (Cody 79), Crane, Andrews, Axten, Breach (Dodd 45+), Beck © (Blatchford 79), Wills, Prior, Harper, Johnson. Unused subs: Ide, Boyle

* Next up for the Rocks is a visit to Merstham next Saturday.

LIAM GOODLEY