ROCKS REVIEW: Merstham 2 Rocks 4

Five straight league wins have carried the Rocks into the top three - and they’re almost scoring a goal a day as 2011 gets better by the week for them.

Two second-half goals from Luke Nightingale secured their latest win after strikes from Ben Johnson and James Crane had put them in charge on their awkward trip to Merstham.

This victory puts them level on points with second-placed Whitehawk and just two points behind Met Police, with the leaders’ eagerly-anticipated visit to Nyewood Lane coming up on Saturday week.

Merstham did well to get this game on. The pitch had been flooded overnight and staff and volunteers worked hard to get rid of surface water and drain the pitch to make it playable.

And just as they had at Nyewood Lane, when they took an early two-goal lead, Merstham went straight at the Rocks from the off.

Jordan Cheadle’s shot skimmed just over the bar after just five minutes - but before they could threaten again, the Rocks took the lead with one of the early goals they have become used to scoring recently.

Kane Wills’ cross found Johnson in the box and he beat three defenders - before then beating two of them again - and chipped a superb shot past Ian Chatfield from ten yards.

It might have been two on 16 minutes but Chatfield saved well from Nightingale after Michael Birmingham had played him in.

Gradually Merstham started to come back at the Rocks and Craig Stoner did excellently to block a Troy Ferguson effort at point-blank range.

That, though, was a warning to the Rocks and Merstham levelled on 27 minutes. Stoner made a good save from Ross White but couldn’t hold the shot and Ferguson reacted fastest to equalise.

The rest of the half saw Merstham in the ascendancy, although Johnson went close with a free-kick and Prior hit the bar with a header that bounced down and was headed off the line by Aaron Murphy.

Just before the interval Stoner saved at Craig Dunne’s feet while Crane was booked for an innocuous challenge.

Two minutes into the second half the Rocks were 2-1 up. Prior powered down the left, sent a ball across the face of goal and Nightingale’s shot slammed against the post. When it came out, Crane converted from 12 yards - and celebrated his first goal of the season in great style.

It was an end-to-end affair now and Dunne headed a cross just wide before the Rocks added to their lead.

Wills began the move in midfield with a pass to Prior on the right. He got away down the wing and crossed for Nightingale, who lashed in clincially from 15 yards.

On 71 minutes Nightingale showed the killer instinct again after Johnson unselfishly passed to him when he could have shot himself.

Merstham pegged it back to 4-2 on 76 minutes, Dale Marvel heading in from a couple of yards out from Ross White’s cross from the right.

Dan Royce replaced the hard-working Prior and Merstham might have set up a grandstand finish when Ferguson The last piece of action came when Johnson was brought down just outside the box - earning a booking for Cheadle - and Birmingham had his free-kick well-saved by Chatfield.

The Rocks and their travelling fans couuld return home happy with another great day on the road - and looking forward to going in search of more success at Whyteleafe on Saturday.

ROCKS: Stoner, Ryan, Crane, Wills, Axten, Bond, Beck, Birmingham, Prior (Royce), Nightingale, Johnson. Unused subs: Marshall, Wood, Marzetti.

Report by Simon Cook and Steve Bone