Sussex Senior Cup: Brighton await after Rocks hammer Eastbourne

Ollie Pearce (No 10) makes it 3-1 late in the first half  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ollie Pearce (No 10) makes it 3-1 late in the first half Picture by Tommy McMillan

Three goals in each half saw off Eastbourne United’s challenge and saw Bognor through to a home county cup quarter-final against Brighton.

Two goals by Terry Dodd, two from Kane Wills and one each for Ollie Pearce and James Crane meant there was never any chance of a slip-up from a Sussex League division-two side who arrived on the back of a 16-match unbeaten run.

The Rocks were decimated by injuries - with Ben Godfrey, Harvey Whyte and new keeper Will Britt among the latest on the treatment table.

That meant a rare appearance for defender Daryl Wollers - fit to play despite the fact he is still awaiting a groin op - and a place on the bench for young untried Dale Hayes. Chichester City loaned the Rocks keeper Anthony Ender for the night.

Eastbourne United arrived in the middle of a great league campaign, doubtless fancying their chances of causing an upset.

The first hint of a goal came four minutes in when Doug Tuck was given space to let fly from 25 yards but it sailed well over - the first sign perhaps that a blustery wind, which got stronger as the night went on, was going to cause a few problems.

Dodd connected well with a Wills corner on nine minutes but it was blocked by a defender.

Bognor looked in total early control, breaking up any half-attacks that Eastbourne did threaten to put together.

Then it was Pearce’s turn to go close - curling a right-footed shot goalwards from the angle of the box that a defender sliced behind for a corner that came to nothing.

Arron Hopkinson wasted an even better chance for the opener, blazing a shot, or was it a cross, high and wide after being played in by a lovely through ball. Then Pearce seemed certain to score but a cross was whipped away from him by Luke Snadhall as he went to bury it.

Another Wills corner was headed just wide at the near post by Crane, but Bognor were building the pressure nicely.

The goal came soon enough - on 16 minutes to be precise. A long clearance from the edge of the Rocks area put Dodd through on keeper Grant Young and he made no mistake.

Scott Chamberlain ballooned a free-kick over the bar and out of the ground from a promising position after Dodd was fouled on 21 minutes.

Pearce’s intelligent angled pass put Dodd in on the edge of the box but he stumbled before he could shoot.

Immediately Eastbourne went down the other end and scored a surprise equaliser, Jack Divall heading in after a break down the right led to a cross that caught the home defence and keeper Ender cold on 25 minutes.

No sooner had the visitors finished celebrating than the Rocks were in front again - Wills sliding a low finish past the keeper after a neat build-up that was too quick for the county league side.

Wills almost got his second a minute later but couldn’t quite get a touch on a teasing cross from the left by Pearce.

Pearce and Hopkinson both went close as the Rocks attacked at will to try to kill off the game before the break.

Play became a little disjointed for a while but there was little hint of another goal by Eastbourne - though having said that, there hadn’t been when they got their first.

Pearce almost ended the lull with a goal but couldn’t quite get anything on a Hopkinson cross into the six-yard area.

Finally the third goal the hosts deserved came a minute before half-time as the rain arrived. Hopkinson was the provider, sending in a perfect cross for Pearce to put away.

HT 3-1

The rain had become steadier during the break and the Rocks groundstaff must have been fearing what another 45 minutes of play would do to an already-heavy pitch.

The Rocks were playing into the wind and rain, which was starting to play an increasing part in the proceedings. As a result, the opening exchanges of the second half were rather scrappy and there was little for either goalkeeper to do.

When the Rocks did finally put a nice move together, it was halted by an offside flag.

Dan Thompson marked his Nyewood Lane comeback following his re-signing last weekend with an appearance off the bench on 58 minutes, replacing Hopkinson.

Thompson was quickly making an impression, and had been on only a minute when he linked up with Pearce, who left Dodd with an easy finish for 4-1.

It was over as a contest and Crane weaved through for the fifth five minutes later, Dodd playing a part in the build-up this time.

It should have been six but Wills sidefooted wide after a spot of pinball following a corner.

Eastbourne made a change, bringing on Linton Rogers replacing Luke Snadhall, while youngster Hayes came on for Bognor, replacing Wollers. who’d done an excellent night’s work on his first appearance since the end of September.

Eastbourne’s best chance of the half fell to Ryan McBride 12 minutes from the end but his half-volley from close range was well blocked by a defender.

Wills is something of a goal machine this season and he got his second of the night on 81 minutes, finding the top corner from ten yards.

Eastbourne made their final change with the game well and truly up - Howard Sturgeon the man brought on to fish for another consolation.

As the Rocks went for a seventh, Thompson hit a post and Crane forced a diving save from Young all in one scramble in the box.

There’s no firm date for the Brighton quarter-final yet but there is some talk the sides may try to get it played next Tuesday, February 11.

Rocks: Ender, Hinshelwood, Crane, Chamberlain, Sackman, Wollers, Hopkinson, Wills, Dodd, Pearce, Tuck. Subs: Kempson, Thompson, Hayes, Killpartrick.

Eastbourne UA: Young, Snadhall, S Dartnell, Loft, Featherstone, B Dartnell, Divall, Aston, McBride, McLean, Tate. Subs: Sturgeon, Farrant, Rogers, Price.

Ref: John Pike

Att: 202


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