ROCKS REVIEW: Leatherhead 0 Rocks 2

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The Rocks returned from a bruising visit to newly-promoted Leathehread well satisfied with an excellent all-round performance, but with a number of unwanted problems.

Injuries to captain Michael Birmingham, defender Stuart Axten and new striker Terry dodd may delay their return to the team and Duncan Jupp will serve a three-match ban after receiving a straight red card ten minutes from the end.

A series of nasty tackles by Leatherhead striker Greg Andrews left the Rocks fuming he was not punished by the referee.

Bognor played some beautiful passing football from the start and Leatherhead struggled to get into the game, and almost conceded the first goal after only five minutes when Jason Prior was hauled down as he burst clear into the box. In any game other than a friendly this would have earned at least a yellow card for the culprit.

Birmingham hit his free-kick well from edge of box but it spun just over the bar after a deflection.

Against run of play the Tanners almost took the lead when Andrews outpaced the defence, rounded Craig Stoner and should have scored with ease. From nowhere Axten somehow powered in to hook the ball off the line and save the day.

Bognor went ahead after 25 minutes when Darryl Wollers, who had an excellent match at left-back, linked well with Dan Beck before delivering an inch-perfect ball over the defence for Jason Prior to hammer the ball home with some force from 18 yards.

Nightingale doubled the score nine minutes later. Again the ball in was from Wollers and Nightingale outpaced his marker before stroking the ball home from the penalty spot.

Leatherhead became increasingly physical in their attempts to compete and the referee’s attempts to keep his cards in his pocket sadly led to a series of unpleasant fouls - the majority committed by Andrews.

Shortly before the break his two awful tackles on Marzetti and Beck went unpunished.

Bognor’s fluency was affected in the second half as a series of substittions took palce.

Terry Dodd replaced Nightingale but was forced off just before the end with a nasty knock on his ankle.

Although Leatherhead had most of the second-half play they were lucky not to conceded a third as a good move bewtween Prior and Dodd ended with the latter’s shot beating Chico Ramos, the Cape Verde international keeper, from an acute angle but curling just wide.

Stoner performed well and only good saves from efforts by Mo Maan and Andrews stopped Leatherhead pulling at least one back.

The increasingly aggressive attitude of the home side led to numerous fouls, and protests from the Rocks bench, and following another dangerous tackle by Andrews the referee held up the game for five minutes before warning the striker, not for the first time.

The official stopped play on three other occasions to call the home captain over to him to warn him about his players’ behaviour but this had little effect.

With ten minutes left after another bad foul by Andrews, Jupp appeared to retaliate. Although the referee was facing the incident from ten yeards he needed to seek the views of his assistant and after discussion showed a red card to Jupp.

It was a shame for the centre-half, who had performed admirably and appears to be back in full fitness after a year in retirement.

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Fraser (Wills 55), Axten (Breach 48), Jupp, Castles, Birmingham (Ide 57), Prior, Nightingale (Dodd 45 (Blatchford 80)), Beck. Sub not used: Di Bernardo.

SIMON COOK