Rocks Review: Rocks 1 Brighton 2 (Sussex Senior Cup)

The Rocks missed out on a semi-final place in the Sussex Senior Cup as a youthful Brighton side came from behind to beat their hosts at Nyewood Lane.

It was a lively game on a bitterly-cold night and the Rocks ought to have been more than 1-0 ahead at the break before the Seagulls fought back in the second half.

The Rocks probably won’t be too upset to dip out of their last knockout competition of the season - it leaves them free to concentrate on their No1 priority, getting promotion to the Ryman premier division.

The home team were first to threaten, with Ashley Robinson twice putting dangerous balls into the box from the left, one of which led to Dan Beck - named player of the month for January - having a shot deflected behind.

Craig Stoner was quickly out to deny ex-Rocks loanee George Barker before Ben Johnson and Beck both went close at the other end.

The Rocks continued to have the better chances and they had penalty claims waved away when Callum Saunders went down in the area.

But they did take the lead on 38 minutes when Beck squared to Johnson, who rifled a shot from just outside the box into the top corner beyond keeper Dan East’s dive.

They went in for the break happy with their first half’s work - but they were later to regret not taking more of those chances.

Gradually Brighton began to enjoy more of the play in the Rocks’ defensive third and after sub Solly March tested Stoner, Barker won and converted a 62nd-minute penalty for a rather soft challenge on him as he advanced into the area on the Seagulls left. He hammered his spot-kick down the middle to beat Stoner’s dive.

Chris Breach, Saunders and sub Terry Dodd all tried their luck but with 15 minutes left, Barker latched on to a through-ball, took a touch to take the ball away from his marker and the onrushing Stoner and score with ease.

That seemed to deflate the Rocks and they struggled to threaten an equaliser, despite the introduction for the final 12 minutes of 16-year-old former Charlton youngster Jordan Adekunle.

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti, Cobbs, Saunders, Axten, Breach, Beck, Wills, Robinson, Harper, Johnson. Subs: Dodd, Hope, Boyle, Adekunle, Wollers.

The Rocks return to league action at Eastbourne Town on Saturday looking to protect, or even extend, their four-point lead at the top of the table.

STEVE BONE