Rocks made to pay by May as Pompey win at Nye Camp

Pompey - and Adam May in particular - were too strong for a battling Rocks side at Nyewood Lane, but it was a useful workout for Jack Pearce's team - and a big crowd made it a decent payday for the club.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 12:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 10:59 am
Jimmy Muitt celebrates his equaliser against Pompey / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jimmy Muitt celebrates his equaliser against Pompey / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Around 1,240 packed into the ground to see the Rocks lose 5-1 to a Pompey XI containing only a handful of first-team regulars and completed by many of the club's promising youngsters.

And there was news afterwards that two of those Pompey prospects - forwards Bradley Lethbridge and Dan Smith - will be joining the Rocks on loan, potentially for the whole season, giving a massive boost to their attempts to put last season's goal drought behind them.

It was one of those with first-team experience at Fratton - May - who was the main difference between the sides on the night, completing a hat-trick just after the break to put the result beyond doubt.

With Pompey giving the Rocks a pre-season boost by visiting for a sixth season in a row, Bognor's side was similar to the one that had started the win over Brighton and the loss to Horndean last week, with Italian trialist Giordano Zabotti in goal and new signings Marley Ridge and Harvey Sparks both in the XI.

Pompey had familiar names including Luke McGee, defender Christian Burgess and midfielders May and Gareth Evans in their starting line-up with promising young academy duo Lethbridge and Smith up front.

The Blues had an early chance when Smith pounced on a loose pass but his attempted lob over Zabotti was far too high. Pompey took the lead just three minutes in as Keaton Wood gave possession away and Lethbridge was free to run at the defence and release May, who slotted clinically low past Zabotti into the bottom corner.

Bognor tried to hit back quickly but the best they could manage was a Ridge cross that McGee gathered comfortably. Lethbridge worked space for a shot from outside the box on 15 minutes but Zabotti was alert to the danger.

It was 1-1 in the 19th minute when a pass from Ridge found Muitt with the left side of the Pompey defence asleep. He took the ball past the advancing McGee and finished well from a reasonably tight angle.

It might have been 2-1 to the Rocks but Tommy Scutt blasted wide after McGee failed to hold a Doug Tuck shot. Muitt and Sparks set up Scutt for half a chance in the box but a defender blocked him, and now the Rocks were on top.

Just after the half-hour Pompey regained the lead with a second goal from May, who took a touch and scored from close in after a ball in from the right deflected off a defender. Bognor had complained of a foul in the lead-up to the goal.

Leon Maloney's persistence paid off with Pompey's third two minutes before the break. Another quick break through the centre ended with Zabotti saving first from Evans then from Maloney, but the youngster had a second attempt after Zabotti's pary and put it away.

Bognor must have felt they didn't really deserve to be two down at the break. And Malnoey almost made it 4-1 with a low shot from fairly wide on the left that was just the wrong side of the post.

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Pompey made Bognor pay for a slow start to the second half. When Evans swung in a free-kick, the Rocks couldn't cope with a game of head tennis and it fell to May, who turned and beat Zabotti with a deflected shot that completed his treble.

Joe Dandy was Pompey's first sub, introduced in the 53rd minute. Calvin Davies had an effort cleared off the line before Sparks hit a shot so high it cleared the clubhouse and bounced on to the tennis courts.

The second half was entertaining enough, with Bognor still getting forward on occasions, but it now had more of a pre-season feel to it, with the result no longer in doubt.

Alfie Stanley was Pompey's second substitute, quickly followed by four others - Stan Bridgman, James Whiting, Harry Kavanagh and Ethan Robb.

A superb point-blank save at his near post by McGee denied Sparks as he got his head on a far-post cross by Muitt, who had done well to find space on the right.

With 13 minutes left Vincent Follea replaced Scutt for Bognor and six minutes later Jack Parkinson - who got the winner against Brighton - came on for Ridge.

Smith made it five on 84 minutes for the Blues with a fierce left-footed finish out of nowhere. Smith might have doubled his own tally with a towering header in the 90th minute but Zabotti leapt to his left to keep it out. Rocks fans didn't realise it at the time, but Smith's goal and near miss were a sign of things to come for them with his move to the Lane alongside Lethbridge.

Next up for the Rocks is a trip to Salisbury on Friday, and they complete their line-up of friendlies at Gosport a week later.

Rocks: Zobotti, Whyte, Davies, Tuck, Field, Wood, Scutt, Block, Ridge, Muitt, Sparks. Subs - Carroll, Follea, Parkinson, Brady.Pompey: McGee, Mnoga, Flint, Read, Casey, Burgess, Maloney, May, Lethbridge, Smith, Evans. Subs - Kavanagh, Whiting, Dandy, Stanley, Robb.