Rocks Review: Rocks 5 Burgess Hill 0

Jason Prior’s second hat-trick of the season fired the Rocks to a comfortable victory over struggling Sussex rivals Burgess Hill at a wintry Nyewood Lane.

James Crane and Terry Dodd weighed in with a goal apiece and it could have been six or seven against a Hillians side significantly poorer than the one that pushed for the play-offs last season.

This was the Rocks’ first home victory since September 17 and was much-needed after a couple of Nyewood Lane displays which were well below recent standards.

There was an encouraging debut from loan signing Steve Harper, although one worry was the sight of Crane being helped off injurted just before the break with what looked like a knee injury.

The Rocks can ill afford to lose any more players to injury - as the sight of three youth-team players on the bench proved, although one, defender Connor Cody, looked solid when he came on for the latter stages.

The Rocks pushed Crane forward from midfield to cover for the absent Dan Beck and had new loan signing Harper on the bench against one of his former clubs.

It was a fairly featureless opening but the Rocks had the best of what chances were created.

After Chris Breach had saved them with a terrific double block in his own area four minutes in, Terry Dodd’s blocked shot at the other end fell nicely for Ben Johnson, whose superbly-hit low drive was just wide of the post.

Then Prior’s downward header from Jon Marzetti’s cross - also after good work by Dodd - was held by Hillians keeper Joe Harding.

On 20 minutes a Burgess Hill goal kick was volleyed into the box by Jones Awuah but Pat Harding’s header was straight at Craig Stoner. And from his kick, the ball fell to Johnson on the edge of the box and he threaded it through to Crane for the opening goal - his third goal in five games.

Johnson brought a brilliant save from Joe Harding on 27 minutes with a rising shot after Crane and Jon Marzetti combined well down the right.

The Rocks’ second wasn’t long coming, though: on 30 minutes Prior fed Johnson as the winger raced away down the left and his curling cross was perfect for Prior to poke it home from five yards.

Stoner had a let-off on 37 minutes when Fred Foreman fired high and wide with the keeper out of position after racing to the edge of his box and failing to gather a through-ball.

It was 3-0 three minutes before the break when Dodd found space in the left-hand corner to fire in a cross and it was perfect for Prior to volley in at the far post.

There was a blow for the hosts just before the break, though, when Crane had to helped off with an apparent knee injury. Harper replaced him and Lewis Ide moved into central midfield.

HT 3-0

The Rocks carried on in the second half where they’d left off in the first and Prior completed his hat-trick when he glanced in a header from another perfect Johnson cross - the ex-Moneyfields man’s 15th goal of the season.

There was another escape for Stoner a minute later when he again came out of his goal and didn’t get the ball - this time Awuah sidefooted wide.

Sub Harper looped a header just over the bar two minutes later and Johnson sent in a long-range shot that Harding tipped away for a corner, before the best move of the game saw Johnson’s 50-yard crossfield pass find Harper, whose cross was flicked wide by Prior.

Dodd had one shot cleared off the line and another saved by keeper Harding’s feet midway through the second half before firing a low shot across goal and just wide.

But Dodd got the goal his efforts deserved when he fired into the roof of the net from a few yards out after Harper twice had efforts cleared off the line with 17 minutes left.

Then Dodd fired in a fierce shot which Harding saved at his near post.

Jack Blatchford and Cody replaced Ide and Marzetti as the Rocks saw out the game comfortably, and there was just time for Harper and Johnson to spurn goos half-chances to make it six.

With Dulwich Hamlet and Maidstone both winning, the Rocks remain third - but management, players and staff will be a lot happier with life after putting recent mediocre home performances behind them in style.

Prior, unsurprisingly, was named man of the match by sponsors Yeomans Honda.

Rocks: Stoner, Marzetti (Cody), Wollers, Wills, Axten, Breach, Ide (Blatchford), Crane (Harper), Prior, Dodd, Johnson. Subs not used: Hope, Boyle.

Burgess Hill: J Harding, Hall (Willis), Ebeusi, Bankole (Bold), Watts, Murray, P Harding, Cotton, Awuah, Foreman, Melia (Tregeer). Sub unused: Conteh.

Ref: N Wallace.

* The Rocks are next in action away to Folkestone Invicta next Saturday.

STEVE BONE