It’s hooray at Cray as Rocks win fifth on bounce

Stuart Axten in action against Cray before injury forced him off Picture by Tommy McMillan
Stuart Axten in action against Cray before injury forced him off Picture by Tommy McMillan

First-half goals by Terry Dodd and Kane Wills gave Bognor a 2-1 win at Cray - their fifth straight victory.

And although it was not perhaps as straightforward as some would have expected against the basement side, that probably had something to do with the fact Cray were fielding no fewer than SEVEN new players.

The Rocks gave a debut to young Southampton loanee goalkeeper Will Britt but he was a virtual spectator for the first half-hour as Jamie Howell’s side dominated proceedings.

After just two minutes Paul Hinshelwood and Wills set up Harvey Whyte - making his first start for months and looking bright from the start - for a shot which former Rocks keeper Darren Bechet saved.

Arron Hopkinson was to be at the centre of much of the Rocks’ best work in the first half and he set up the opener after six minutes.

He beat four players before crossing perfectly for Dodd to poke it home.

On the quarter-hour, Hopkinson outpaced the home defence and forced Bechet into a save with his feet.

Whyte’s close-range shot was somehow blocked by Bechet and then Hopkinson went on another mazy run before shooting wildly when he should have hit the target.

Whyte exchanged passes with Hopkinson on the 30-minute mark and should have scored, and if anyone was thinking at this stage that Cray might make Bognor pay for their profligacy, they were proved right eight minutes later when Wanderers equalised.

Paul Vines, one of their new signings, collected the ball on the edge of the area and struck a cracking shot past Britt and into the top corner.

But two minutes later, the Rocks were ahead again as Hopkinson and Dodd teed up Wills for an accurate 18-yard effort that nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

It might have been 3-1 before the break but Hopkinson’s first-time shot was brilliantly tipped over by Bechet.

The Rocks were forced into two changes for the second half. Stuart Axten succumbed to an ankle problem that may threaten his availaibility for Saturday’s home clash with Billericay and Dan Sackman replaced him, while Scott Chamberlain had picked up a knock and had his place taken by Doug Tuck.

The second half was scrappier than the first but although Cray had plenty of the possession they rarely got in behind Bognor - and when they did try their luck through high crosses or long-range shots, Britt dealt with everything in confident style.

Sackman and Craig Robson were rock-solid in the heart of defence and Bognor had one or two chances to gain a two-goal lead.

Hopkinson outpaced the entire Cray defence but miscued his shot and Whyte caused the hosts further angst before tiring and being replaced by Dan Kempson.

Cray’s best chance came ten minutes from time when Alex Stavrino ran through one-on-one with Britt, but he took too long and Hinshelwood came in with a well-timed block and the chance had gone.

Ollie Pearce and Wills both saw shots saved late on and in the final minute Jide Maduako went into the book for scything down Pearce as he advanced towards goal.

The referee did well to keep the game flowing on a heavy pitch and the 40 or so Rocks fans who made up almost half the crowd came home happy with the performance and result.

Rocks: Britt, Hinshelwood, Crane, Chamberlain (Tuck), Axten (Sackman), Robson, Hopkinson, Wills, Dodd, Pearce, Whyte (Kempson). Unused sub: Godfrey.


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