VIDEO: Play-off place secured as Rocks see off Hendon

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Goals by Ollie Pearce, Terry Dodd and the returning Ben Johnson gave the Rocks an ultimately-comfortable win over Hendon - and earned them a home play-off semi-final.

The victory ensures a top-three finish for the Rocks, meaning they’ll have home advantage next week when they play their third play-off semi-final in four seasons.

Terry Dodd puts the Rocks two up versus Hendon  Picture by Tommy McMillan

Terry Dodd puts the Rocks two up versus Hendon Picture by Tommy McMillan

It took the Rocks five minutes to get the ball into the box and when they did, James Crane’s cross looked destined for Craig Robson’s head - but he fouled his marker.

It was a very low-key start though it was the hosts having most of the possession.

Paul Hinshelwood’s high cross from the right had keeper Daniel McNicholas struggling but it eluded everyone else as well as the stopper and went out for a goal kick.

There was plenty of patient build-up play from both teams but a Dodd pass inside to Scott Chamberlain was the nearest the Rocks came to a breakthrough in the first 20 minutes, and the midfielder couldn’t latch on to it.

Then Doug Tuck played in Crane down the left but his cut-back from the by-line was overhit. That typified the Rocks’ play, which was at times lacklustre.

The game came to life with a goal out of nothing. A Rocks attack down the right saw Sammy Igoe play a short pass to Pearce, who cut inside and skipped past two defenders before firing a low drive from 20 yards beyond McNicholas at his near post.

Predictably, the goal lifted the home team and a Kane Wills free-kick was headed back into the danger area by Robson, but the defence cleared.

Soon after, Crane cracked in a shot from the angle of the box - but a defender got in its way.

Michael Murray’s free-kick to the far post was just too strong for Dave Diedhiou and the crowd in the main stand were finding plenty of amusement from Hendon’s management duo in the technical area and their displeasure with their team’s efforts.

it was 2-0 on 32 minutes and the early struggles were now forgotten. The goal came from a lovely left-to-right move which ended with Hinshelwood surging into the box and crossing low and perfectly for Dodd to slide in and divert it into the roof of the net.

The Rocks were much more settled by this time although Hendon were still having spells of play in the Bognor half.

Wills miskicked a shot 15 yards out after Chamberlain set him up for the attempt five minutes before the interval. Then a quick break saw Pearce find Wills in the box but his attempt to play it into Dodd failed and the keeper gathered.

Bognor were doing most of the attacking but did have to bring off Igoe - who had picked up an injury. But a welcome sight for the Rocks faithful was the man who replaced him - winger Johnson, making his first appearance since suffering a knee injury in November.

HT 2-0

The Rocks began the second half on the front foot and Johnson’s first involvement was to tee up Chamberlain but his 25-yard shot was well off-target.

Hendon gave their hosts a scare on 52 minutes when Jack Bennett looked destined to get one back, but he put his effort wide as he slid in to divert a cross past Grant Smith.

There were more alarm bells when Murray found space in the box for a shot that Smith had to palm away for a corner. It came to nothing but it was a worrying little spell for Jamie Howell’s team.

Chris Seeby was next to try his luck for Hendon but his 25-yard volley was always going well over.

Stuart Axten replaced Dan Sackman in the 58th minute.

When the Rocks did finally get the ball forward, Pearce got away down the right but his cross was beyond the far post and too strong for everyone.

Lee O’Leary’s curling shot from 22 yards brought a diving save from Smith midway through the half.

A neat passing move, one of their best of the game, was halted when Johnson strayed offside.

A third change for Bognor saw Dan Thompson - goal hero at Maidstone on Saturday - replace scorer Dodd, who received a great ovation from the home fans.

Hendon made a double change with Scott Cousins and Leon Smith replacing Murray and Tony Taggart.

A bizarre incident secured the points for the Rocks with 14 minutes left. Keeper McNicholas claimed the ball from a Rocks attack but then lashed out at Pearce for reasons best known to himself. He was red-carded and sub Johnson put away the penalty past stand-in keeper Casey Maclaren.

Sam Flegg replaced Anthony Thomas for Hendon’s final change.

Johnson almost doubled his tally on 81 minutes with a curling right-foot shot that beat the stand-in keeper and the far post as well.

Chamberlain was next to test Maclaren with a well-struck shot from long range which he turned around for a corner.

Hinshelwood was named sponsors’ man of the match.

Thompson’s fierce strike was headed off the line by a defender when an 88th-minute corner fell to him eight yards out.

Rocks: Smith, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck, Sackman, Robson, Pearce, Wills, Dodd, Igoe, Chamberlain. Subs: Johnson, Axten, Thompson, Weir, Ender.

Hendon: McNicholas, Seeby, Bennett, Fisher, Maclaren, Diedhiou, McCann, O’Leary, Thomas, Murray, Taggart. Subs: Smith, Braithwaite, Figuera, Flegg, Cousins.

Ref: L Crowhurst (Uckfield).

by STEVE BONE