Goal-happy Rocks hit Whitehawk for six - plus post-match verdict
The rampant Rocks recovered from being 2-1 down to basement boys Whitehawk to thump them 6-2 and extend their unbeaten start to the National League South season and claim a top-five spot.
MoM Ollie Pearce led the way with two goals and three assists while sub Pat Suraci weighed in with a late double. Jimmy Wild and Alex Parsons were also on target as the Rocks took their tally in four games to 14 goals.The downsides of a fine night for Bognor were injuries that forced Jimmy Muitt and Corey Heath off early. Both have ankle injuries that could keep them out for the near future.It was a lovely sunny evening at Nyewood Lane for the Rocks' first Sussex derby of the season, with bottom-placed Whitehawk arriving in search of their first points of the season.Bognor were still without James Crane and Dan Beck, so Calvin Davies continued at left-back and Joe Lea kept his place in central midfield.The Rocks began the game unbeaten, having beaten Bath City 3-2 in their opening game at home and followed that with draws at Poole (2-2) and Welling (3-3).Bognor took an early lead with their first attack. Harvey Whyte played a pass inside to Muiit as the Rocks attacked down the right and his curling cross, although it evaded Parsons, was headed in at the far post by Pearce, whose effort was too strong for keeper Alex Tokarczyk.Another promising attack down the left was halted by an offside flag just as it looked like Parsons might be away.Dan Lincoln's first serious action of the night came on nine minutes when he had to get down to his left for a sharp save from Jordy Mongoy's shot from an acute angle.The visitors were level in the tenth minute when a half-clearance by Whyte fell to Ramone Rose, who spotted Lincoln off his line and put a superb long-range dipping shot over him and in.It was a very open game and a foul on Pearce 25 yards from goal gave Ben Swallow a chance to show off his cultured left foot, but his free-kick was just wide.Lucas Rodrigues drew a good diving save out of Lincoln with a low 20-yard drive on 14 minutes.Suddenly Whitehawk led when the Rocks defence was found wanting as quick move forward led to a cross from the right which was met by Mongoy's controlled finish low into the corner past Lincoln.The Rocks suffered another blow just before the 20-minute mark when Muitt hurt his ankle when tackling ball to stop a Hawks attack. He went down in agony and had to be helped off for further treatment. Wild replaced him.Wild was almost on target within a minute of coming on as he collected a square pass from Parsons and turned to fire a low shot that the keeper had to tip away. From the corner Sami El-Abd's free header flew wide.Pearce's cross from the left was on a plate for Lea but his volley was heading wide before it was deflected to the other side of the goal by a Whitehawk defender.It continued to be an open, attacking game with both teams playing their part.Conor Tighe thought he had scored against a Rocks side he served well on loan from Brighton in 2016 as he swept in a right-sided cross, but the offside flag was up.A minute later the ball was in the net - at the other end. Another brisk move down the rocks left ended with Pearce crossing and Wild's towering header gave Tokarczyk no chance.Inevitably that was the cue for another Whitehawk chance and Tighe was denied from close range by Lincoln.A breathless half ended 2-2 and it was one that went down as a great one for fans but perhaps not for managers.An early second-half Whitehawk free-kick caused brief alarm in the Rocks box as it skimmed off a Bognor head and almost fell to Rodrigues at the far post, but it was too high for him.The Rocks were back in the lead six minutes into the second half and it was Parsons who was in the right place to nod in from close range after a Hawks defender made a hash of a clearance close to his own goal-line.Dan Harding was booked for preventing Lea taking a quick free-kick after fouling him.The Rocks had a two-goal lead - relative comfort in this remarkable game - on 59 minutes when the Rocks looked like they had lost possession going forward only for Parsons to beat his man to a loose ball in the centre and play a pinpoint pass to the unmarked Pearce, who ran on, drew the keeper, rounded him and put it into the empty net.Two minutes later it became more of an uphill struggle for the Brighton team when Rose was sent off - though it was not clear if he had seen red for a lunging challenge on Swallow or reacting to Pearce, who confronted him after the tackle and was booked for his troubles.Whitehawk made the evening's first substitution, bringing on Archie Davies for Rodrigues. Bayan Fenwick wasn't far off target for them with a 25-yard drive on 72 minutes that had Lincoln beaten.Pearce was so close to a hat-trick when collected Parsons' chip into the box, took a touch and then fired in a low shot that the keeper blocked.Heath had picked up an ankle injury and was replaced by Chad Field with 11 minutes to go.The Rocks might have had a fifth on 81 minutes when Tuck's pass to Davies on the left saw the youngster beat his man, get to the by-line and try to pick out Wild, but the ball in was too strong. Suraci came on Parsons with six minutes to go while Ed Wakely came on for Tom Cadman for the Hawks.The result was put beyond doubt on 89 minutes when Tuck stretched for a pass that sent Pearce clear and instead of trying for a goal that would have given him his hat-trick, squared to sub Suraci, who sidefooted in from six yards. And Suraci was in the right place again in injury time, with Pearce again involved - Suraci having scored twice despite only being on for ten minutes.
Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte, Davies, Tuck, El-Abd, Heath, Muitt, Lea, Parsons, Pearce, Swallow. Subs- Suraci, Wild, Field, Block, Boughton.Whitehawk- Tokarczyk, Cadman, Harding, Mongoy, Elliott, Gordon, Rodrigues, Whittingham, Fenwick, Tighe, Rose. Subs: Gueye, Davies, Wakely, Walsh, Roddy.Ref: David Spain (Westfield)