Rocks Review: Rocks 2 Canvey Island 2

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TWO goals by Dan Kempson lit up the Rocks’ fourth game in nine days - but weren’t enough to make it four wins in a row.

His double - the second a goal of the season contender - took the Rocks from 1-0 down to 2-1 up in the first half but the Essex side, who still have outside hopes of the play-offs, fought back to secure a point after the break.

The Rocks named Daryl Wollers and Terry Dodd - both of whom have been struggling with injuries - on the bench but were able to recall Sam Pearce into the heart of defence after his recovery from a hamstring problem.

Canvey Island, still chasing a Ryman premier play-off place, had player-boss Steve Tilson among their subs.

The Rocks almost took the lead within the first minute when Canvey keeper Ashley Jones hit a clearance straight to Kane Wills 30 yards. Briefly he had a near-open goal to aim at but Jones got across to hold his shot.

Canvey took a few minutes to settle but almost went ahead in the eighth minute when Mitch Gilby’s scorching shot from 25 yards went through Craig Stoner’s grasp and slipped out for a corner off the outside of the post.

It wasn’t a very fluent opening to the game by either side but it was first blood to the men from Essex when captain Rob King bundled them into a 17th-minute lead from close range after Craig Stoner had made an excellent one-handed save from Bradley Woods-Garness’ angled shot from 15 yards.

But the Rocks were level within two minutes. Lewis Stockford got away down the right, spotted Kempson’s run into the box and found him with a low cross for the youngster to stab it past the keeper from close in.

The equaliser gave the Rocks the confidence to get hold of the ball and drive forward, and Thompson was twice close to getting on the end of good balls through the Canvey defence.

A quick break by the Islanders on the half-hour could have seen them retake the lead but Woods-Garness showed no compsure when a clearing header by Josh Warren fell to him 20 yards out - he skewed a volley well wide when he had time to bring it down and shoot.

No sooner had that chance gone begging than the Rocks - and Kempson - made Canvey pay with a second. There seemed little danger to the visitors when Kempson had the ball 30 yards from goal but he let fly and Jones could only watch as it flew into the top corner.

Kempson was hitting everything in sight and wasn’t far off a first-half hat-trick with a 20-yarder on 44 minutes - but this time it was a low one and Jones got down to it. But Kempson’s goal attempts were still pretty impressive for a player who’d scored only once all season before this match.

Soon, Doug Tuck’s foray forward set up a chance for Wills in the D - his shot took a deflection on its way to being held just under the bar by Jones.

HT 2-1

Connor Cody replaced Jon Marzetti – another who has been in the wars lately – for the start of the second half.

The first threat of the half came from the Rocks as they carried on where they had left off at the end of an encouraging first-half showing.

Crane surged forward from left-back to force Jones into a sharp high save at his near post.

Stoner was almost caught out just before the hour was up when he came out of his area to clear, only to be beaten to it by Woods-Garness, who couldn’t get his hurried effort on target.

Ollie Pearce was booked for halting Ashley Dumas’ progress down the left.

Stockford was replaced by Terry Dodd on 62 minutes.

The game had become a little disjointed with Canvey doing plenty of pressing and the Rocks unable to rediscover their attacking flow of the first half.

Ashley Miller was booked for Canvey after a heavy challenge on Sam Pearce, who happily showed no ill effects after the tackle.

Tommy Kavanagh soon followed him into the book for a fairly innocuous challenge as the Rocks attacked down the right.

The Rocks thought they had a third on 70 minutes as they bundled the ball in during a round of pinball in the area but an offside flag ended the celebrations.

Canvey brought on Dean Mason for Harrison Chatting.

The visitors pulled level in controversial circumstances on 74 minutes. The referee awarded them a free-kick in the D for what looked like a decent defensive challenge – and Kavanagh curled it around the wall and beyond Stoner’s dive and inside the post.

It should have been 3-2 to Canvey on 77 minutes when Woods-Garness nutmegged his man on the byline and passed to sub Mason, but instead of sidefooting it in with his right foot, he connected with his left boot and hit it back where it had come from.

At the other end another sub, Dodd, almost forced an own goal.

Then a Dodd free-kick from 25 yards deflected into the path of Crane in the area and he drew a neat diving save from Jones.

Another disallowed goal stopped Bognor in their tracks with seven minutes left – this time Dodd controlling a pass and firing it past Jones, but only after the offside flag went up.

Ollie Pearce came off for Daryl Wollers with three minutes left.

Home hearts were in mouths in stoppage time when dangerman Woods-Garness turned and shot from 20 yards and it was only inches past Stoner’s post.

But a draw was probably a fair result and the Rocks head to Thurrock on Saturday boasting an unbeaten record for the month to date.

Rocks: Stoner, Marzetti, Tuck, Crane, Warren, S Pearce, Kempson, Wills, Thompson, Stockford, O Pearce. Subs: Cody, Dodd, Wollers, Killpartrick.

Canvey Is: Jones, Millar, Dumas, King, Buckwell, Orlu, Gilby, Kavanagh, Woods-Garness, Curran, Chatting. Subs: Mason, Cetinay, Davidson, Tilson, Glanville.

Ref: H Lennard 

STEVE BONE

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