Rocks Review: Rocks 4 Epsom & Ewell 0 (FA Cup)

Rocks players congratulate Ben Johnson after his second goal against Epsom and Ewell  Picture by Kate Shemilt C121182-3
Rocks players congratulate Ben Johnson after his second goal against Epsom and Ewell Picture by Kate Shemilt C121182-3

The Rocks cruised into the second qualifying round of the FA Cup with a commanding performance to beat Epsom & Ewell - with the result not looking in doubt from the moment they took a 12th-minute lead.

Ben Johnson’s double and second-half strikes from sub Terry Dodd and James Crane saw off the Combined Counties League first-division side, who battled well but hardly troubled Craig Stoner all afternoon.

It puts Jamie Howell’s side in Monday’s draw and one small step nearer the chance of a brush with a Football League team in the first round proper - and also earns them a useful £3,000 for winning through this stage.

The Rocks gave young Omar Folkes his first competitive start in place of Dodd, who’s suffering with shin splints.

Young midfielder Dan Kempson also made his full debut, with Crane covering for the injured Darryl Wollers at left-back.

It took the Rocks just 12 minutes to take the lead against a side who play two divisions below them in the Combined Counties Leauge, and it was that man Folkes who made it.

He twisted and turned to create a shooting chance and although his effort was blocked it fell nicely for JOHNSON to fire low into the corner from 10 yards.

Kane Wills skied a 20-yard volley as the Rocks turned the screw.

Steve Harper curled a nice 25-yard free-kick only just too high and wide after Johnson was hacked down and Mu Maan’s near-post volley from a Jon Marzetti cross from the right was well-blocked.

Marzetti was getting plenty of chances to attack and another delivery from him almost led to Dan Kempson scoring a debut strike at the far post.

You felt a second was coming and sure enough, it was 2-0 on 32 minutes as JOHNSON got his second, volleying in from close range after Folkes teed up Maan and Harris could only parry his fierce shot straight into the winger’s path.

Wills was next to try his luck, sending a sweetly-hit drive just over the bar from 22 yards after another nice set-up by Marzetti.

Epsom had a rare sight of goal five minutes before the break but Kempson’s frnatic block denied Nathan Ayling as he worked space to shoot from 12 yards.

Folkes had another chance when Wills’ long ball over the top put him in on goal but he scuffed his shot just as he closed in on Harris.

HT 2-0

The Rocks began the second half as they’d ended the first - enjoying all the possession.

Maan and Folkes between them ought to have converted Johnson’s cross to the far post after James Crane set him up down the left, but the Epsom defence scrambled it clear.

The Rocks made a couple of changes - one forced. Johnson hurt his knee in trying to get to a loose ball after Harris had saved his low shot running on to a ball across the box, and was replaced by Doug Tuck.

Dodd replaced Mann and within a few minutes the two Rocks subs had combined to make it 3-0 as Tuck’s long pass from the left proved perfect for Dodd, who took one touch to tee himself up then a second to smahs it past Harris at his near post.

Dodd was almost in for a second, and a fourth for the Rocks, immediately after that but Harris denied him this time.

CRANE made it 4-0 with 12 minutes left after getting forward from left-back, where he’d had a quiet but tidy afternoon. He ran on to a pass to surge into the box, beat a defender and poke it past the outrushing Harris.

Epsom, to their credit, continued battling and sub Myers found himself played in with only Stoner to beat - but that was one obstacle too many as the keeper earned his money for the afternoon with a good save with his legs.

Rocks: Stoner, Marzetti, Crane, Kempson, Axten, Andrews (c), Harper, Wills, Maan, Folkes, Johnson. Subs: Stockford, Dodd, Tuck, Boyle.

Epsom: Harris, Currie, Hatfield, Panayi, West, Downs, Hayward, Ayling, Marvell, Hough, Ramsey. Subs: Dewar, Gubby, Gough, Myers, Jarman, McGregor.

Ref: M Taylor (Southampton)