Pearce and Wild give Angels a Ton of trouble - plus video reaction
Ollie Pearce and Jimmy Wild scored a goal apiece as the Rocks continued their fine start and condemned high-flying Tonbridge to their first league loss of the season at a sunny Nyewood Lane.
The goals came in a superb second-half performance from the Rocks that could easily have brought a bigger scoreline as Jamie Howell’s men moved up to fourth in the table in front of a crowd of 511.
Pearce and Wild were excellent but everyone played their part - including the defence, who had to be at their best against an Angels side who carried plenty of threat in attack.
See Rocks boss Jamie Howell’s post-match verdict in our interivew on video
Tonbridge arrived at Nyewood Lane in second spot in the Ryman premier, having won six and drawn two of their opening eight games.
They won 5-0 at the Lane early last season, although the Rocks gained revenge for that with a 3-1 win in Kent in February.
Midfield duo Dan Beck and Doug Tuck were absent for Bognor, with Darren Budd and James Crane taking their places.
Wild kept his place up front after his maiden league goal against Kingstonian, with Thomas Byrne still absent.
Tonbridge had Anthony di Bernardo, who spent a short time with Bognor a few seasons ago, in goal.
In the first 30 seconds Crane had Pearce running on to a long ball over the top, but his ambitious attempt to lob di Bernardo didn’t come off.
The opening ten minutes were fairly cagey with defences on top, and the Rocks’ best move saw James Fraser spray a pass out to Alex Parsons on the right - but Wild couldn’t get a decent head on it.
Bognor had a free-kick and a corner, both taken by Pearce, that were dealt with by the Angels defence before the visitors broke and Nick Wheeler wasted a chance to shoot from close range and was crowded out by the home defence.
Pearce curled another free-kick just wide on 15 minutes, while Tom Phipp’s low shot failed to overly trouble Billy Granger.
Tonbridge enjoyed a spell of pressure around the 20-minute mark, with Wheeler seeing a shot bravely blocked by Gary Charman - who put his body on the line every time he needed to - then sending in a cross that Craig Dundas almost converted.
A nice bit of trickery by Wheeler in the box almost put him in on Granger but a superbly-timed tackle by Ed Sanders got it out for a throw.
Parsons was proving Bognor’s best outlet, seeing plenty of the ball on the right and getting in his share of crosses - none of which the strikers could do anything with.
The winger weaved his way to the edge of the box to set Crane up for a shot but he didn’t catch it right and the low effort was always going wide of the far post.
Sanders needed treatment from the physio after a heavy challenge just inside his own half.
James Fraser surged away down the left in a quick Rocks break but his route was blocked by two defenders.
The best chance of the half fell to Pearce in the final minute but he volleyed over with only the keeper to beat - then in first-half stoppage time Pearce beat his man on the left and crossed perfectly for Wild - but his well-struck volley was just too high.
Tonbridge started the second half on the front foot and Wheeler walloped a long-range shot well over Granger’s bar.
Pearce was giving the Angels defence plenty to think about, though an offside flag stopped him in his tracks on one threatening run-through.
The Rocks were suddenly the team threatening the opener - and they got it through Pearce on 53 minutes. A neat passing move through the middle ended with Crane playing in Pearce and he picked his moment before sidefooting it past the advancing di Bernardo.
Tonbridge responded to going behind with a change, bringing on Tommy Whitnell for Luke Blewden - the man going off having had an anonymous game in contrast to his hat-trick in the fixture last year.
Immediately the Angels put Bognor under pressure and Wheeler’s cross was headed into Granger’s arms by Phipp.
Both teams made a change on 63 minutes - Calvin Davies replaced Parsons for the Rocks and Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson came on for Damien Scannell for Angels.
It was soon 2-0 to the Rocks. Pearce got free down the left, and took his time before squaring it to Wild. He took a touch then placed it low past di Bernardo and into the same corner in which Pearce had put his goal.
The Rocks’ tails were firmly in the air and another attack ended with Pearce crossing from the right but Wild getting too much on his far-post header and sending it over the bar.
Pearce was the provider again on 72 minutes, this time putting a free-kick right on to Sami El-Abd’s head, but he got underneath it and his effort was too high. Then Pearce waltzed through again only to be denied by the keeper as he tried to take it past him.
Angels made their final substitution on 74 minutes, Ugo Udogi replacing Jerome Sobers.
Davies went into the book for bringing down the tricky Wheeler only a couple of yards outside the box, but happily for the hosts the free-kick struck the wall.
A second change for Bognor saw Chad Field replace Fraser on 78 minutes.
Wheeler only needed a touch as he ran on to a Dundas cross into the six-yard box but Granger gathered.
Fortnam-Tomlinson forced Granger into a sharp save at his near post with a fierce effort after cutting into the box.
Jimmy Muitt replaced a tired-looking MoM Pearce with five minutes left. Within a couple of minutes, Muitt was booked for a mistimed challenge on Jack Parter.
Crane miscued a 20-yard shot in the 88th minute after a Wild lay-off and it landed on the clubhouse roof.
Davies ought to have had a penalty when he was pulled over in the box as he tried to get on the end of a long ball in from the left.
Wild was battling to the end - and getting the appreciation of the home crowd for it - and he chased a long ball down the right before beating his man and firing low across goal but wide. Seconds later he had sight of goal again and found the side netting.
The Rocks are at home again on Tuesday when Burgess Hill visit for a Ryman premier Sussex derby.
Rocks: Granger, Sanders, Barnett, Crane, Charman, El-Abd, Fraser, Budd, Wild, Pearce, Parsons. Subs: Field, Muitt, Davies, Robinson.
Tonbridge: Di Bernardo, Folkes, Parter, Phipp, Sobers,Mills, Scannell, Allen, Blewden, Dundas, Wheeler. Subs: Whitnell, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Parkinson, Udogi.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!