Rocks Review: Rocks 2 Chipstead 1

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The Rocks opened the season by taking all three points thanks to a late winner from Luke Nightingale.

They were made to battle all the way and turned in an average display against a Chipstead team that came to Nyewood Lane fully prepared to take away at least a draw.

James Fraser had given the Rocks the lead on the stroke of half-time but the Surrey visitors levelled from the spot early in the second half.

Bognor fielded a relatively strong side despite injury worries over Nightingale and Tim Bond, who both started on the bench.

Ben Johnson was back and started on the left wing after he came back from a loan spell at Newport County. And it appears he is back at Nyewood Lane for the season.

On just 2 minutes, Jon Marzetti went down holding the inside of his leg as tackles flew in early on. After inspection from the physio he was able to return to action.

Craig Stoner had to deal with an awkward long ball, dashing out of his area to boot the ball sideways to Perry Ryan, who fed Dan Beck on the left. But the counter attack broke down.

Johnson’s free kick from the right curled high into the box but was punched clear by Martin Grant in goal.

The Rocks continued to create half-chances and Marzetti hit a cross-field pass to Jason Prior who laid it off to Johnson just outside the box. But Johnson swerved his shot over the bar.

Bruce Hogg’s long throw into the area was headed clear by Stuart Axten and Chipstead again went close when Jordan Brown whipped in a cross for striker Martin Grant (not to be confused with their goalkeeper of the same name) who glanced his header narrowly over the bar.

James Fraser worked well in midfield to drive the ball forward to Prior on the right. Prior crossed it in and Beck headed back into the area towards the busy Fraser but a defender got there first.

Michael Birmingham won a corner after trying to thread Crane in on the left, hitting a defender’s leg on the way. Johnson’s corner kick disappointingly came to nothing.

Some neat play from Johnson in the middle led to the winger slipping a pass for Crane on the left. Crane squared the ball to Kane Wills, whose instant shot was blocked by a defender.

Birmingham put a long ball over the top and Prior sprinted on to it, but Grant managed to just get there first.

The Chips had another decent chance on 19 minutes. Tom Battoms whipped in a cross for Brown but again the visitors weren’t on target as the player headed over the bar.

Referee Knight signalled for a foul by Marzetti on Brown on 22 minutes and the full-back was shown the Rocks’ first yellow card of the season.

A nervy moment occurred seconds later when Brown bounced in a cross from the left which outwitted Stoner as he failed to gather. However, Coburn lifted the ball over the goal.

Johnson yet again found Crane on the left. The full-back fed Prior in the box with his cross but the striker nodded his header over the bar.

On 30 minutes Perry Ryan had to shepherd the ball out under pressure from Coburn. Hogg’s corner was eventually deflected away for a goal kick.

Then Marzetti and Johnson combined to find Wills with a neat pass but he was flagged offside.

Marzetti crossed from deep on the right. Dan Beck headed into the centre and Fraser headed over when perhaps he should have done better.

On 35 minutes Beck sped through and flashed a shot from well outside the area, but Grant saved well.

Fraser went down under a challenge, clutching his arm. He received treatment and after quite a period of time Fraser did return to play.

Five minutes before the break, Brown played through Coburn, who swerved a low shot towards the bottom corner. Stoner managed to get something on it to deflect it round the post.

Fraser stabbed a low shot wide of the right post but Bognor did score right on the stroke of half-time.

Crane squared the ball to Fraser inside the area. The midfielder hit his shot low at goal and it came off goalkeeper Grant’s legs before looping into the net.

HT 1-0

Beck managed to get on the end of a through ball from midfield but scuffed his chance as Grant gathered.

A cross from Fraser should have been put away had Prior not missed the ball completely in the box.

Six minutes into the second half, Axten received a yellow card for appearing to complain to the referee after a tackle.

When Ryan went down after a harsh tackle by Grant, the offender received a yellow card.

On 54 minutes Brown received the ball from a Grant through-ball but Brown’s square pass across the edge of the box was cleared by Beck.

Johnson beat Bedford on the left to cross for Wills in the box but Robert Watkins headed off for a corner. Johnson’s corner fell to Fraser in space and he headed the ball into the ground. It bounced high towards goal but Grant saved well.

Skipper Birmingham had to come off after injuring his leg. He had to be helped off and was replaced by Louie Castles.

Things got worse for Bognor as Grant ran into the box and went down in the area. The referee deemed that Crane had pulled the player down. Up stepped Jason Goodchild, who made no mistake in scoring.

The Rocks almost went ahead on 66 minutes when Fraser found himself in space just outside the box to loft a neat ball to Prior. The striker’s powerful header was tipped over by the fingertips of Grant.

Striker Grant latched on to a long ball and rounded Matt Whitehead on the right. After reaching the byline he cut inside and unleashed a shot from a tight angle. Stoner was strong and saved by the near post.

Hibbert curled a cross straight on to the head of Coburn, whose effort was low, but somehow Stoner diverted the ball away with his legs.

Grant had to punch clear a dangerous in-swinging cross from the right using both fists. Castles spun a shot from inside the area but Grant saved it.

The right winger was again involved when his throw to Johnson was quickly offloaded to Prior in the box with a chipped pass. With his back to goal Prior swiftly turned and shot, forcing a diving save out of Grant, tipping the ball around the left post.

Prior forced another one-handed save from Grant from the resultant corner - the keeper having to flap the ball away desperately.

The Rocks did eventually net their second of the day - and the winner - on 89 minutes. Prior let fly with a shot from the edge of the area, which Grant tipped on to the bar. The ball came down and rolled along the line and despite the defence’s efforts to clear the danger, substitute Nightingale was in the right place at the right time to divert the ball in from a yard.

The Rocks held out to win, but only after a nervy four minutes of stoppage time, to delight a 400-plus crowd with a victory.

ROCKS: Stoner, Marzetti (Whitehead 55), Crane, Fraser, Axten, Ryan, Beck (Nightingale 78), Birmingham (Castles 61), Prior, Wills, Johnson. Unused Subs: Breach, Bond.

Next up the Rocks go to Croydon Athletic on Wednesday.

Report by LIAM GOODLEY