Johnson double delivers points for Rocks at Thamesmead

TWO Ben Johnson goals - the second a late penalty - earned the Rocks their eighth win in ten Ryman premier games as they won 2-1 at Thamesmead.

Although the hosts had the better of the first half, which finished 1-1, the Rocks were much the better side after the break and probably deserved the win - though it looked like it would elude them until Johnson converted the spot-kick given for a foul on Ollie Pearce.

The win puts Jamie Howell’s team seventh in the Ryman premier just seven points behind leaders Maidstone.

There was a bright start from Bognor and Craig Robson’s ball into the six-yard box after two minutes could have fallen to one of three attackers, but they all left it to each other.

Thamesmead came into the game and Tyrus Gordon-Young had an excellent shot well saved by Mark Zawadski. From the resultant corner, Rocks players had to hack the ball off the line FOUR times in 20 seconds.

Bognor went upfield and took the lead when the ball broke to Arron Hopkinson on the right and his cross-shot was nodded in from close range by Johnson.

But within a minute, the East London side were level through Jordan Hibbert’s 25-yarder - which, although it was well-struck, might have been kept out by Zawadski.

Thamesmead had the bit between their teeth and their pacy attackers were causing problems for the Bognor backline. Gordon-Young was a handful but shot wide with only the keeper to beat - while at the other end Johnson’s long-range free-kick was held by home stopper Rob Budd.

After the interval, Bognor took the game to their hosts. Budd saved a 20-yard Terry Dodd shot as the striker looked to add to the hat-trick that dumped Chippenham out of the FA Trophy on Saturday, and Pearce came on as a sub for Ben Godfrey on 50 minutes to cause the riverside team mote headaches.

Robson threaded a pass to Dodd, whose ball across the danger area was only just missed by Johnson, and Doug Tuck played in Pearce for a goal that was ruled out for offside.

In a rare Thamesmead attack, George Monger’s 20-yard shot was only just too high.

Budd saved well from a Pearce shot that followed a James Crane set-up and then made a better stop from a long-range Dodd effort.

Johnson almost converted a chance from a tight angle and Crane missed when put through in the box and it looked like Bognor would have to settle for a point.

Dodd’s header and a Hopkinson shot that was blazed over added to the feeling it wasn’t to be the Rocks’ night and they nearly went 2-1 behind when Thamesmead sub Ollie Bankole burst clear but scuffed his shot with only Zawadski in his way.

Immediately the Rocks broke and Pearce was hauled down for a clear penalty. The striker had to go off injured but Johnson clinically put away the penalty.

Jay Porter nearly repeated the hosts’ first-half trick of a quick leveller when his cracking shot was turned away by Zawadski, and keeper Budd went up for the corner to cause Howell’s men further scares. But they held on for their eighth win in ten in the league and go into Saturday’s tasty-looking home clash with Dulwich Hamlet in good heart.

ROCKS: Zawadski, John, Crane, Tuck, Axten, Robson, Hopkinson (Sackman 90), Wills, Dodd, Godfrey (Pearce 50 (Chamberlain 90) ), Johnson. Unused sub: Malins.

SIMON COOK

Get all the latest from Nyewood Lane in the Bognor Observer - out on Thursday