Rocks Review: Rocks 0 Met Police 0

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It’s four points from two games - and an unbeaten start to life in the Ryman premier - after the Rocks drew 0-0 with Met Police in an engaging tussle under the Nyewood Lane floodlights.

Either side might have edged it 1-0 but Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s team can take heart from having held a team who are fast becoming established at this level.

The Rocks handed home debuts to forward Mu Maan and midfielder Lewis Stockford as they welcomed to town the team who’d pipped them to the Ryman one south title a year before they did secure promotion last May.

Right from the start it was obvious this was going to be more of a test of their ability to hold their own at the higher level than Saturday’s trip to Concord - which ended in a comfortable 3-1 win - had been.

The Met had almost all the possession in the opening 15 minutes although for all their clever build-up play, failed to test Craig Stoner once, with Craig Brown’s long-range drive, that drifted wide of Stoner’s right-hand post, their best effort.

Gradually the Rocks began to get hold of the ball and enjoy some pressure of their own and it led to their first chance on 15 minutes.

A neat build-up down the left led to Ben Johnson’s slide-rule pass finding James Crane in space on the corner of the box. He took a touch to see off a defender and curled a nice effort just too wide and high of Jamie Butler’s goal.

The Rocks followed that with a spell of pressure that twice saw Johnson crosses almost land on a Rocks head, but eventually the Met cleared.

For a while the game became a midfield battle with neither side able to build decent phases of play or test the opposing keeper.

Stafforde Palmer fancied his chances when trying a shot from 25 yards but Stoner watched it sail well over his bar and on to the clubhouse roof.

The second half began as the first had ended, with little hint of a goal at either end but some decent-enough football in the middle third of the field.

Maan got away from his marker 30 yards from goal in one Rocks attack down the right but wasted the opportunity when he played a pass straight to a Met defender.

Crane gave the Rocks a scare by going down clutching his leg a couple of minutes after a heavy tackle, but he was okay after treatment.

The first substitution of the night brought Terry Dodd into the action - he replaced Stockford.

Soon Crane had sight of goal after Maan’s pass found him in the box, but he shot wide.

The Rocks were now beginning to enjoy most of the pressure and Andrews sent a header only just wide after getting up superbly at a corner.

Steve Harper replaced Robinson and then the Rocks did get the ball in the net - but Crane was offside in sweeping home Maan’s swirling cross from the right.

The Coppers responded with Howard Newton forcing a diving save from Stoner and from the resultant corner, the ball was flicked across the face of goal with Joe Dolan only just unable to get a decisive touch into an unguarded goal.

The Rocks third and final change brought a debut for young striker Omar Folkes, who replaced the hard-running Maan. the Met replaced ex-Rocks trialist Billy Crook with Marc Charles-Smith.

The three subs almost combined for the opening goal on 75 minutes as Folkes battled to feed Dodd, who slid a pass through to Harper. He looked to be in on Butler but he was charged off the ball by a defender as the keeper came out to gather - and the Rocks’ shouts for a free-kick or better fell on deaf ears.

The game opened up as the final 15 minutes arrived.

Andrews ought to have buried a header from no more than six yards after a high free-kick into the box found him, then Newton teed himself up for an 18-yard volley but it was straight at Stoner as the defence failed to shut him down in time to stop the shot.

Crane’s long ball nearly put Dodd in on Butler but the keeper raced out of his area to kick clear.

Andrews was booked in the finasl minute of normal time after tangling with an opponent - with the crowd on that side of the ground insisting the Met Police player was the guilty party. It was the Met’s free-kick when the arguments had died down but it was easily cleared.

The Rocks had most of the late pressure and Andrews almost buried a header from their final corner but in the end neither side could complain too much about going home with a point.

Stoner, Marzetti, Wollers, Crane, Axten, Andrews, Stockford, Wills, Maan, Robinson, Johnson. Subs: Boyle, Dodd, Harper, Kempson, Folkes.

Met Police: Butler, Taylor, Hurrell, Sutherland, Dolan, Scarlett, Brown, Smith, Palmer, Crook, Newton. Subs: Tyrrell, Yao, Charles-Smith, Lockyer, Smalley.

Ref: I Parsons (Salisbury)

STEVE BONE