Rocks Review: Leatherhead hold Rocks - then Gods lap up victory

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The Rocks had mixed fortunes when they played two friendlies in three nights against Surrey opposition, reports Rob Garforth.

First, Ryman pne south club Leatherhead provided the opposition at Nyewood Lane, with the two sides sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Former Southampton defender Aaron Racine - who had played against the Rocks for AFC Wimbledon the week before - was in the Bognor starting line-up, although it appears he will be moving elsewhere. Steve Harper returned to the mould, making his first pre-season appearance.

The light early-evening showers that descended on to the Nyewood lane surface appeared to play their part in Leatherhead’s opener on 11 minutes when Greg Andrews received the ball on the edge of the area before his low drive fizzed past Tom Boyle on the skidding surface and into the net.

The crossbar came to Leatherhead’s rescue on two occasions - first when Ben Andrews rattled the bar with a header from Ben Johnson’s corner before Harper picked up the rebound to slam against the woodwork.

But in the 34th minute, Rocks were level when Terry Dodd took full advantage of some defensive dithering, stealing the ball from his opponent before lifting the ball over the keeper with the outside of his boot for the equaliser.

The second period saw little in the way of chances at either end but the Rocks management duo again saw some impressive performances from their younger players.

ROCKS: Boyle, Marzetti, Wollers, Kempson, Racinny, Andrews, Harper, Wilkins, Dodd, Robinson, Johnson. Subs: Simmonds, Folkes, Axten, Tuck, Cody.

* Last Friday, the Rocks made the trip to Godalming’s Wey Court and fielded a side that was blended with a mixture of youth and experience.

Craig Stoner made his first start in goal having recovered from illness and there was a place in the starting XI for forward player Omar Foulkes, who made a couple of appearances against the Rocks last season for both Merstham and Whyteleafe.

In an unusual twist, the Godalming keeper failed a fitness test which meant Rocks keeper Tom Boyle found himself facing his regular team-mates in the Gs’ goal.

Boyle was on hand to deny the Rocks in the opening few seconds, pulling off a fine fingertip save on to the bar to deny Kempson from 20 yards.

The Rocks were enjoying the better of it and struck the woodwork again on 18 minutes when Boyle could only watch as Dodd’s curling effort came back off the post before Robinson headed the rebound over.

The sparse crowd had to wait until the 61st minute for the first of the game’s six goals when a finely-struck effort from Warren Harris gave the hosts the lead.

Godalming doubled the advantage six minutes later when Dan Read tapped home from close range after Dyer’s header had come back off the post.

On 75 minutes it was 3-0 with a fine piece of finishing from Darren Wheeler but with ten minutes left, Rocks got themselves on the scoresheet when a mistake by Boyle allowed Ben Chick to roll the loose ball into an unguarded net from 30 yards.

In the 83rd minute, the deficit was reduced further when Ashley Robinson curled home a free-kick from just outside the box but any hopes of completing the comeback were quickly dashed as Wheeler picked up the ball on the left and beat three defenders before slotting past Stoner from close range.

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Tuck, Andrews, Axten, Harper, Kempson, Dodd, Robinson, Folkes. Subs: Simmonds, Chick, Cody.

The Rocks are next in action at home to Worthing this Friday evening (August 10).