ROCKS REVIEW: Rocks 1 Crawley 3

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The Rocks lost 3-1 as Football League new boys Crawley Town’s visit to Nyewood Lane attracted a crowd of 340 - with a debut goal for Terry Dodd the high spot for the hosts.

Ben Johnson was a surprise inclusion in the Rocks starting XI. The winger has been on trial with League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge and his future remains uncertain.

Former Rocks Chris Breach and Louie Castles were both in the squad, along with a number of triallists, such as Alex Baldachino and Darrell Wallers.

Michael Birmingham curled one of his speciality free-kicks towards the top corner in the sixth minute after Jason Prior was bundled over 25 yards out, but keeper Michael Kuipers saved.

Then Johnson dallied for too long when Jason Prior set him up and sent a shot beyond Kuipers but wide of the far post. He almost made amends with a lovely floated cross from the left across the goal-face, but it was cleared.

The Rocks were rueing their early misses when Crawley surged into a two-goal lead with a quick double strike.

First a neat three-man passing move through the middle ended with John Akinde being played through, drawing Craig Stoner and slotting past him.

A similar build-up three minutes later saw Wes Thomas double the lead, and the Rocks looked shell-shocked.

But the home side got back in it on the half-hour and it was a debut strike for Dodd as he received a ball in from Prior on the right, turned his marker and hit home a hard, low shot.

Prior looked like he might equalise just before the break but an offside flag preceded his shot, which went wide in any case.

HT 1-2

Stuart Axten and Louie Castles came on for the start of the second half, replacing Tim Bond and Prior.

Sloppy defending seven minutes into the second half led to Thomas being allowed space for a shot which beat Stoner and cannoned back off the bar.

Then skipper Birmingham was replaced by John Marzetti, while scorer Dodd got a good reception from the crowd as he was replaced by ex-Havant youth team player Baldachino.

Castles had Kuipers rushing out of his area midway through the second half as he chased a long ball from his own half, but the big stopper got there first to put it over the stand.

The Rocks made a couple more changes with 15 minutes left, with Stoner being replaced by Tony di Bernardo and Darrell Wallers, an ex-Littlehampton youngster, coming on for Dan Beck.

Hope Akpan made the game safe for Crawley by making room for himself just inside the box and placing a left-footed shot into the top corner.

Toby Pointing replaced James Crane on 78 minutes but there was no way back for the Rocks, whose management will have learnt a fair amount about their pre-season progress from this game.

Rocks: Stoner, Crane, Whitehead, Wills, Breach, Bond, Beck, Birmingham, Prior, Dodd, Johnson. Subs: Marzetti, Fraser, Axten, Castles, Baldachino, Wallers, Pointing, di Bernardo.

Crawley: Kuipers, Davis, Howell, Akpan, Gibson, Thomas, Smith, Wilson, Akinde, Dempster, Wassmer. Subs: Charles, Adouyne.

You can get a recap of the game by clicking the link to the right of the screen which says ‘live Rocks v Crawley Town coverage’.