Hat-trick hero Rutherford helps Rocks ease past Eastbourne

Alfie Rutherford / Picture by Tim Hale
Alfie Rutherford / Picture by Tim Hale

An Alfie Rutherford hat-trick sealed Bognor’s place in the quarter-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup as they beat Eastbourne Town 6-1 at a chilly Nyewood Lane.

The teenager’s treble was backed up by goals from Doug Tuck, Jason Prior and Sami El-Abd as the Southern Combination premier division side - who never let their heads drop - ended well beaten.

Bognor will host Burgess Hill or Broadbridge Heath in the next round.

This third-round game had been switched to Nyewood Lane after twice being postponed at Eastbourne.

The cold weather and the chance to stay at home and watch football on TV appeared to have kept the crowd figure down, and it was only the most hardy souls who were present.

The Rocks had a dream start, taking the lead after just two minutes. Ollie Pearce broke clear down the right and although Prior didn’t get a clean connection on it at the far post it fell to Tuck, who couldn’t miss from a couple of yards out.

Eastbourne looked taken aback and for a while the Rocks looked like they might run riot, with Prior and Rutherford both going close to doubling the lead within a few minutes.

Pearce got away down the right again on 12 minutes but his cross was too high for Prior at the far post.

Another move down the right led to Harvey Whyte getting the ball into the box. Eventually Prior knocked it down for Tuck but his hopes of a second goal were dashed with a shot that was way over.

The same side of the pitch yielded another move which saw Pearce cross for Whyte, who had got forward from full-back but couldn’t stretch to convert it.

Eastbourne caused a few alarms in the Bognor defence, helped by a stiff wind behind them.

Rutherford headed over when Prior nodded a right-wing cross back across goal.

Pearce had clearly had enough of seeing others spurn chances from his crosses so he went it alone during a Rocks attack on 29 minutes, and fired low across goal but just wide. Then Prior set up Tuck in the area - but the skipper had strayed offside.

Eastbourne were having their moments but seemed a little shot-shy when they did get into the box.

At the other end, Whyte looked sure to convert from eight yards but a slight deflection took it wide.

It was 2-0 on 36 minutes thanks to a fantastic solo effort by Rutherford, who picked the ball up fairly wide on the left, got into the area and made space to lash a fierce drive beyond Greg Nessling and into the far corner.

HT 2-0

The Rocks introduced Stu Green and Daryl Wollers for the second half in place of Snorre Nilsen and Whyte.

Pearce had the first shot of the second period but his 20-yard effort lacked power and was easily held by Nessling.

On 49 minutes Rutherford got his second of the night with a simple but clinical finish after Pearce set him up.

Soon Prior sidefooted in the fourth as Rutherford and Green’s quick movement saw the visiting defence sliced open.

Eastbourne looked well beaten but Nathan Crabb tried to keep their heads up with an ambitious curling shot that Grant Smith collected.

Both sides made a change on 57 minutes. Jamie Horncastle replaced Prior for the Rocks and the visitors brought on Jack Turner and Jason Taylor for Dan Rogers and Aaron Capon.

Eastbourne kept battling and Brett Patton pulled one back on 62 minutes by taking a touch to control the ball on the edge of the area then firing a low volley which was deflected past Smith. It was lax defending by the Rocks.

To their credit, Eastbourne kept battling away and had the Rocks defence working hard.

But the Rocks kept attacking too and Green’s curling shot was well saved by Nessling, before Pearce and Tuck both had goalbound shots blocked in the same passage of play.

Rutherford completed his hat-trick - well-deserved for his night of endeavour - when he buried a spot-kick, awarded perhaps rather harshly for a close-range handball.

Sami El-Abd - who had been moved into an unfamiliar striking role following Prior’s substitution - headed in the sixth on 82 minutes, although Eastbourne seemed unhappy with his challenge on the keeper for the goal as the duo went up together.

Eastbourne simply wouldn’t stop trying and Matt Darby flashed a low shot beyond Smith and only just wide.

Crabb picked up the evening’s only booking in the 90th minute for a crude challenge on James Crane.

Rutherford decided three was not enough and should have had his fourth when Pearce found him 12 yards out, but his well-struck shot was marginally too high.

Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, El-Abd, Robson, Rutherford, Nilsen, Prior, Pearce, Field. Subs: Horncastle, Green, Rowlatt, Wollers, Broughton.

Eastbne Tn: Nessling, Foster, Bolwell, Darby, Rogers, Sherriff, Crabb, Patton, Tate, Pogue, Capon. Subs: Turner, Smith, Willett, Cuddington, Taylor.

Ref: Marc Meeten (Worthing)

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make this website your homepage

2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex

3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!