Solid start for Rocks as Stoke visit to kick off pre-season

The Stoke defence break up a Rocks attack at Neywood Lane  Picture by Chris Hatton
The Stoke defence break up a Rocks attack at Neywood Lane Picture by Chris Hatton

Bognor let slip a lead in the first half to go down 2-1 in this first pre-season fixture – but it was a very useful workout with some really good football played and some promising young players on show.

The Rocks welcomed newcomers Chris Winterton, Jake Thomson, Alex Parsons, Darren Wheeler, Louis Horseburgh, Jamie Strong and former Pebbles player Dale Hayes. Ex-Rock and Brighton midfielder Charlie Oatway also came into the squad.

Bognor got off to a great start when Alex Parsons diverted a neat low cross below goalkeeper Daniel Gyollai and into the net from a great cross from Ben Johnson.

Oatway went close on nine minutes when he was put through on goal but his shot hit the side netting.

But the young Stoke side equalised in the tenth minute. Neat work from Kieran Monlouis set up Tomi Adelaye, who curled a shot in off the frame of the goal.

Parsons was looking dangerous down the other end for the Rocks. Oatway set him up with a through-ball and Parsons smashed his low shot against the right post.

Johnson teed up Oatway but slid his shot wide. Oatway smashed another attempt from long distance on the volley and only narrowly over the bar as the ball fell to him outside the box.

A long ball forward for Stoke found Adelaye, who brought the ball down before teeing up George Waring and he made no mistake slotting low into the bottom left corner on 26 minutes.

The Potters were looking more confident as the game wore on as Monlouis smashed a 25-yard effort just wide of the post.

Johnson’s cross from the left found Wheeler, who passed it on to Parsons. The striker tried his luck but the goalkeeper deflected it out and James Crane also failed to capitalise on the rebound.

HT 1-2

There were wholesale changes for the restart for the Potters, whereas Thomson, Crane and Johnson were taken off for the Rocks in the second half. Ollie Pearce, Harvey Whyte and Strong replaced them. The Rocks made further changes – Horseburgh replaced the impressive Parsons and Wheeler was replaced by another product of the Rocks youth team, Johan Van Driel.

The first best attempt of the half saw James Alabi strike powerfully at goal in the 65th minute. Keeper Winterton, who was having an excellent game, pushed the ball back out of the area.

Oatway was replaced by Ryan Morey before good work from Eddy Lecygne set up Adam Thomas – but his shot was well saved by Winterton.

Lecygne’s direct free-kick flicked off a head in the wall before spinning off the corner of the goal and away minutes later as Stoke continued to control possession.

On 78 minutes Bognor brought on their final substitute, Hayes replacing Dan Sackman. Morey curled the ball high over the bar moments later after good work from Whyte in the Potters’ half.

Pearce’s corner found Van Driel in the box and his glancing header almost crept through the crowded area and was cleared.

Alabi forced a terrific save from Winterton with two minutes left. A neat cross from Joel Taylor found the striker, whose header was tipped over by the goalkeeper.

Winterton was called into action to deny Alabi again when he cut inside the box along the byline and beat the defence easily before shooting.

The management team will feel the Rocks did well in this first fixture and will hope for more at home to Pompey on Saturday (July 19, 1pm).

Rocks: Winterton, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck, Robson, Sackman, Thompson, Oatway, Parsons, Johnson, Wheeler. Subs: Pearce, Whyte, Horseburgh, Van Driel, Hayes, Strong, Morey.