Rocks come from behind to return to winning ways
The Rocks got their season back on track with a 3-1 home victory over Billericay thanks to strikes by Stuart Green and Jason Prior and an own goal.
Bognor welcomed back Doug Tuck to his first appearance since pre-season following injury. After the departure of Jake Thomson, Rocks veteran Dan Beck returned to midfield duty.
There was a rude awakening for Jamie Howell’s men as Billericay took the lead on three minutes. A neat cross from the left by Teddy Nisbet was met by Tom Derry, who headed it into the net.
Louis Hazelwood’s through ball was just too much Derry as Billericay continued to pressurise going forward.
The Rocks won a free-kick on the right. Ollie Pearce took it and the ball fell to Prior, who turned and struck a low effort with his right foot, but the ball rolled just wide of the left post.
Ola Williams was a constant threat, whipping in crosses from the right, which on two occasions had to be headed clear by Harvey Whyte near the back post.
Alex Parsons’ driven cross from the right was destined for Prior but he couldn’t quite get to it on 18 minutes.
Bognor equalised on 19 minutes. Good work from Parsons allowed him to pass to Pearce, who had a shot stopped by Jack Giddens - but it fell to the onrushing Stuart Green who netted low into the bottom corner.
James Crane’s cross from the left was good but Prior’s glancing header didn’t find the goal on 22 minutes with Parsons just behind.
Rocks took a 2-1 lead on the break as Parsons’ fierce low cross was diverted to his own net by Joe Ellul on 23 minutes.
Prior had the ball in the net again on 29 minutes but the referee had already signalled for a foul on Giddens.
Green’s cross was only just too much for Pearce but the ball fell to Beck, who smashed it first time on the volley, forcing the goalkeeper into a double handed save a minute later.
On 38 minutes, Whyte tried his luck from some 30 yards looking for the top corner. Giddens pushed the ball around the post.
Parsons swung in yet another cross from the right as he found Green, whose header spun just wide.
A half-time substitution for the visitors saw Onome Sodje replace Manor as the Blues looked to get back into this game.
Pearce went to ground under a challenge, just seconds after kick-off, winning a free-kick. His curling cross found Prior but the ball was just behind him as his high header was caught by the grateful Giddens.
A long and hopeful ball forward towards Derry came to nothing, followed by a Williams low cross being gathered by Smith as Billericay searched for an equaliser in 50 minutes.
Pearce tried his luck from long distance, blasting his effort well over the bar on 53 minutes.
Bognor went 3-1 up on 55 minutes. Some fantastic work from Parsons on the right saw him beat two players before powering a cross in. He found Prior who beat his marker to net with a superb header high into the net.
The Rocks brought off Beck for Gary Charman on 59 minutes and the talisman was given a big applause as he left the field after a strong performance.
Tuck received a yellow card on 61 minutes for a challenge near the halfway line.
Whyte and Parsons worked well done the right before the latter got a low cross in that was just stopped by Giddens on 65 minutes.
Pearce’s corner found Craig Robson in the box. The defender’s diving header rattled the crossbar on 68 minutes.
On 70 minutes Alfie Rutherford replaced Tuck for Bognor and Shane Stamp and Shane Cajacarel replaced Frankie Curley and Hazelwood for the Essex visitors.
Stamp went to ground under a challenge by Parsons on the left, winning a free kick. Following this Whyte was deemed to have tripped Stamp in the box and was awarded on 77 minutes. Sodje stepped up to take it but Smith stopped the penalty and the rebounds were blocked.
On 81 minutes Snorre Nilsen replaced Green for Bognor.
Derry received a yellow card on 83 minutes for a strong challenge.
Jack Edwards blasted his long-range effort wide of the right post on 85 minutes as frustrations grew for the visitors.
Pearce’s cross had to be headed out for a corner moments later. His corner found Prior who only just powered his downward header wide of the right post.
Rutherford’s fierce low cross from the right found Pearce and his instant shot smashed off the left post on 88 minutes.
Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck (Rutherford 70), El-Abd, Robson, Green (Nilsen 81), Beck (Charman 59), Prior, Pearce, Parsons. Unused subs: Field, Wollers.
The Rocks - away to Lewes on Monday afternoon - are back in home action on Saturday, when Enfield visit the Lane.
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