Rocks Review: Rocks 2 Faversham 0

Five wins. Eighteen goals scored. None conceded. Those are the impressive statistics which have taken the Rocks to the summit of Ryman one south since they last dropped a point.

Jason Prior - who else? - and Ben Johnson scored the goals that defeated Faversham and made it three home victories in eight days for the in-form Rocks.

It wasn’t pretty - nor a particularly fluent performance - but the green army won’t care too much about that after their team moved two points clear of previous leaders Dulwich Hamlet and seven points clear of third place.

The Rocks were without injured Ben Andrews in the centre of defence. Chris Breach came in for him in the only change from the side who beat Maidstone at the weekend.

New signing Callum Saunders, the ex-Whitehawk and Worthing wideman, was on the bench.

Kick-off was delayed by just over half an hour by a major accident at Littlehampton which made half the Faversham team and Rocks keeper Craig Stoner late.

It was a frenetic start to the game with the Rocks having by far the best of the possession, but much of their play in the final third was hurried and they couldn’t carve out any early clear-cut chances.

James Crane, enjoying his more forward role once more, got into the area a couple of times to no avail.

But the Rocks didn’t have to wait too long for the first goal and it was a familiar name on the scoresheet - Prior burying his 23rd league goal of the season and his 53rd goal of 2011 from close range after Dan Beck won the ball 35 yards from goal and fed Steve Harper, whose cross was perfect for the top scorer.

That was the signal for a spell of sustained pressure on the visitors’ goal and Johnson weaved his way into the box to release Crane, whose cut-back was hoofed clear.

Faversham - playing in the Rocks’ blue away kit - threatened for the first time on 22 minutes when Danny Hockton squirmed free on the right and sent over a cross that beat Stoner but failed to find a visiting player at the far post.

Prior smacked a 25-yard free-kick into the wall after Beck was fouled as he advanced on goal and the Rocks went close again from a corner which Faversham failed to clear.

Prior missed what by his standards was an easy chance when he hit a volley into the ground from six yards out after Jon Marzetti and Kane Wills did superbly to crate an opening on the right.

Prior was denied in the 29th minute by a brilliant reaction save by Rob French as he sent a close-range header goalwards from Crane’s nod into the danger area.

For a while the Rocks’ play became sloppy as passes went to blue shirts instead of white.

Stuart Axten was booked on 34 minutes for a tackle on Hockton that looked to most like it should not even have led to a free-kick. His challenge was strong but he got the ball - but he still saw yellow, as did Hockton for his reaction to the tackle.

Harper sent a free-kick high and wide from a promising position just outside the box and fairly central.

Johnson’s chipped pass almost put Harper in on goal but a defender’s head got there first to concede a corner, from which Prior was penalised as he rose to meet it.

HT 1-0

There was a rather scrappy start to the second half as the Rocks found themselves under a little bit of pressure.

When they did get forward for the first time, Prior looked destined to nod in his second of the night from a Johnson cross, but French palmed it away from him. Harper’s follow-up volley flashed across the goal.

Then Marzetti wasted a good opportunity when his cross from the right was straight into French’s arms.

Again the game - and some of the Rocks’ play - became ragged and Faversham’s Shane Hamshare almost made them pay when he stole possession and ran to the edge of the box, but his shot was poor.

Tom Hickman followed Hamshare’s lead by seizing on hesitancy at the back and firing in a low shot that Stoner had to get down to sharply.

Harper sent another shot wildly over the bar when a corner was played out to him.

The Rocks made their first change, with Saunders coming on for his debut in place of Marzetti.

Faversham sub James Peacock, on for Tom Axford, headed just over from a dangerous cross.

The Rocks were huffing and puffing but finally found a bit of rhythm and twice threatened with 13 minutes left.

Wills’ lofted ball to the far post was volleyed across the face of goal by Prior with no-one close enough to get the final touch, then Saunders crossed to Prior, who miscued his far-post effort horribly.

The Rocks got the second goal they certainly needed with nine minutes left thanks to an assist from Stoner.

His goal-kick was perfect for Johnson to run on to and the winger tormented the full-back before firing low across the keeper and in off the far post.

Saunders was close to a debut goal when he fizzed a shot only inches over after a quick counter-attack involving Johnson and Wills had teed him up.

Axten was named man of the match for a battling performance at the back.

Jack Blatchford replaced Beck at the death as the Rocks saw out the game comfortably.

Now the Rocks head to Walton & Hersham on Saturday looking for a sixth straight win, another clean sheet - and the chance to keep hold of top spot.

Rocks: Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Crane, Axten, Breach, Beck, Wills, Prior, Harper, Johnson. Subs: Blatchford, Saunders, Sackman, Bond, Boyle.

Faversham: French, Axford, Gore, Hickman, Brown, Bourne, Elliott, Hamshare, Stone, Hockton, Quain. Subs: Peacock, Ascheri, Botterill.

STEVE BONE