AFC Portchester 1 Rocks 1: Jake rescues Rocks – but injury crisis arrives early

Darren Wheeler went close for the Rocks before Jake Thomson levelled at Portchester   Picture by Chris Hatton
Darren Wheeler went close for the Rocks before Jake Thomson levelled at Portchester Picture by Chris Hatton

Portchester provided a stern test to a still-largely-experimental Rocks side and a draw was probably a fair result at a sweltering Wicor Recreation Ground.

Paul Hinshelwood failed a fitness test, allowing Dale Hayes to start, but his participation was cut short after just 25 minutes when a strong challenge left him with a bad leg injury. Nathan Hawker took his place.

The home side looked well organised and attacked down both flanks, although the Bognor rearguard coped well with the threat of ex-Rocks duo Louie Castles and Simon Woods as they sought to conjure a goal from the possession they were enjoying.

Bognor did create an opportunity of their own when Jake Thomson’s excellent cross was headed goalwards by Harvey Whyte. The home keeper saved well on the line.

Jamie Strong’s superb block saved the day for the visitors when Woods had a great chance to open the scoring, but a minute later Portchester went ahead when a mix-up in the Bognor defence allowed Robbins a completely free run on goal, and he scored with ease.

Just before the break the home right-back Evans should have made it two, but after a flowing move and run from his own half his shot drifted just wide of the post.

Darren Wheeler did come close for Bognor in almost the last action of the half, but there was no doubt the home side had been the more inventive of the two teams in the opening 45 minutes.

HT 1-0

The Rocks equalised early in the second half with Thomson rifling in a superbly-taken goal, against his former team-mates, following an intelligent free kick, quickly taken by Strong.

Bognor appeared more committed in the second half, and controlled the match for periods, without really threatening a goal. Their possession in midfield did not create any real chances up front, and only James Crane’s running from left back and substitute Ryan Morey’s direct running looked likely to break down a well-organised home defence.

Crane tackled superbly to keep out what seemed a certain goal with ten minutes to go, then in the dying seconds of the match he fell awkwardly on the rock-hard pitch. It was immediately obvious that he had seriously injured his shoulder and the referee sensibly blew for full-time.

After some considerable treatment at the ground his dislocated shoulder was put back in, but following medical investigation overnight it transpired that he has suffered a hairline fracture. The prognosis for a good recovery in about four weeks seems good, but with Hinshelwood, Hayes and Crane all joining Alex Parsons on the injury list, it looks as if the annual injury crisis has arrived early this season.

Bognor: Winterton, Hayes, Crane, Tuck, Sackman, Strong, Whyte, Oatway, Thomson, Wheeler, Johnson. Subs: Morey, Pearce, Trivelato, Hawker, Awcock, Atkinson, Richard.