Rocks Review: Rye 1 Rocks 3 (Sussex Senior Cup)

The Rocks endured a nightmare journey to a rain-drenched Salts, home of Rye United, but returned home victorious after a frantic and full-blooded cup tie.

With Tim Bond injured, Dan Beck and Craig Stoner unavailable and Ben Johnson suffering from bronchitis, Bognor needed to make a number of changes.

The lack of a goalkeeper was the most pressing problem, with normal understudy Josh James cup-tied. Tom Boyle, reserve-team keeper at Moneyfields, stepped up and became one of the heroes of the night with a series of tremendous saves as the home side surged forward aided by the blustery conditions in the second half.

Rye are a strong and experienced side, and it is no surprise they are the leading goalscorers in the County League division one.

It was clear from the outset this was going to be strong test for Bognor and after only a few minutes it needed an excellent last-ditch tackle from Jon Marzetti to prevent Liam Upton racing through with only Boyle to beat.

Just as Rye thought they were gaining the upper hand, however, the visitors struck. A good clearance from Boyle was gathered by Terry Dodd, and his inch-perfect pass to Jason Prior was smashed home on the volley from just outside the box – a trademark Prior strike.

Rye came back strongly and it took an excellent Boyle save from a fierce shot from former Brighton, Bognor and Eastbourne striker Scott Ramsay to preserve the lead.

Rye then produced a great flowing move which resulted in the miss of the season so far. Ramsay and Wes Tate outpaced the Bognor defence and had only Boyle to beat. Having rounded the keeper Tate appeared in two minds as to whether to shoot or pass to his colleague, allowing Jack Blatchford to get back to clear on the line.

Rye should have still scored as the ball sat up well for Ramsay, but his mis-hit shot was eventually smothered by young Boyle.

This was a real let off for Bognor, and they made Rye rue the miss minutes later as Prior rose to head home Blatchford’s corner.

James Crane should have made it three just before the break after a mazy run into the box, but Joe Winchester in the home goal saved well.

Moments before half-time, Rye reduced the deficit when Wes Tate received the ball from Shaun Loft and was able to go on the round Boyle before this time scoring with ease.

The second half continued with Rye taking advantage of the rain and wind, but Bognor looking dangerous on the break.

Chris Breach brought a good save from the home keeper and then Boyle produced a tremendous diving save to keep out an absolute piledriver from Jon Richardson’s wind-assisted 20-yard shot.

Despite a constant barrage of long balls into a packed Bognor penalty area, the Rocks’ defence continued to hold out. Stuart Axten and Breach used their strength well under pressure and Darryl Wollers headed off the line on one of the few occasions Boyle was beaten.

Substitute Alan McGinigall headed against the Rocks’ crossbar and then Boyle produced another great save from Ramsay as the visitors wondered if they would have to face the prospect of unwanted extra time.

With just three minutes left however, Kane Wills wrapped the win up for the Rocks. Sub Johnson threaded a good ball through and Wills neatly beat the offside trap to run on and plant the ball past the advancing Winchester with great confidence.

There was just time at the end to give a run-out to Tyler Hope, another of the youth team players, and the Rocks were able to run the last few minutes down. This win sets up a home tie wuth Burgess Hill Town in the next round.

ROCKS: Boyle, Marzetti, Wollers, Blatchford (Johnson 75), Axten, Breach, Ide, Crane, Prior, Dodd (Hope 87), Wills. Unused Subs: Cody, Liebschner-McCarthy.

SIMON COOK