Rocks 2 Eastbourne Borough 1
A spirited display from the Rocks saw off old rivals Eastbourne Borough with a goal in either half enough to seal their second friendly win in five days.
A familiar face - that of Ben Watson - was present in pre-match training but did not feature.
Steven Brinkhurst, who had a stint at Bognor, and Gary Elphick, brother of Tom, who played for Bognor a few years back, were both in the Eastbourne starting XI.
Gary Pride was the latest new face to stake his claim for a Rocks chance.
The game got off to a flier and Rocks were immediately on the back foot. After just three minutes Tim Bond managed to deal with a through ball by Brinkhurst on the right by solidly shielding the ball to safety.
Stuart Axten headed a curling cross clear from Billy Medlock after the left winger had beaten Jon Marzetti to the ball.
On six minutes Jon Marzetti received the ball from midfield in space on the right but his low cross was easily cleared.
Ian Pulman capitalised on a miscued square pass from Michael Birmingham in the middle of the field to speed through to hit a left-footed shot from the edge of the area. But his low effort hit the side netting.
Down the other end Dan Beck fed Terry Dodd in the box after a lofted free kick by Marzetti. The striker turned twice in quick succession before having a shot blocked, winning a corner. The kick fell to Chris Breach, who headed across the box to Axten, who managed to head narrowly over the bar.
The visitors took the lead on 14 minutes. Matt Whitehead miscued a clearance and Brinkhurst sped through into the the box before cutting the ball square to Medlock, who only had to tap the ball home from close range.
Minutes later Whitehead had to receive treatment and was replaced by Daryll Wallers.
A decent through ball from Birmingham set the impressive Louie Castles on his way and he managed to win a corner, deflecting the ball off a defender. Sadly, Birmingham’s corner kick didn’t get past the first defender.
After some quick build-up and astute defending from Breach, Eastbourne had another chance when Brinkhurst fired well wide from 35 yards.
On 28 minutes Terry Dodd pressured Gary Charman into hitting the ball high for visiting goalkeeper Rikki Banks, which led to the shot stopper heading the ball out to safety.
Bognor were unlucky seconds later when Castles spun in a great cross towards Dodd from the left but the striker couldn’t quite get hold of it. Though he managed to recover the ball and cross for Breach, the holding midfielder’s shot was instantly deflected wide.
Craig Stoner had to come out of his goal to punch clear a lofted forward ball by James Smith as he searched for Pulman. And after Beck clattered into Matt Smart moments later, conceding a free kick, Stoner was quick again to react to the danger.
The impressive Pulman beat Axten with surprising ease, shifting himself swiftly to his left to flick a shot neatly over Stoner. Much to the relief of the goalkeeper, defender Bond was running back and just managed to divert the ball away on the line.
Another speedy run down the right from Castles won his team a corner on 39 minutes. Birmingham’s corner kick found Breach in the box, but he headed wide.
Minutes before the interval, Dodd was brought down just outside the box. Up stepped Birmingham, who hit his attempt right at the wall.
The Rocks were level on the stroke of half-time when Marzetti combined with Dodd on the right before the latter found Beck in the box. The skilful midfielder lashed in a shot which took a mighty deflection to go in, outwitting Banks at the same time.
Two minutes after the restart, Brinkhurst had the ball on the right and crossed towards the back post. Luckily for Bognor, substitute James Crane was there to head away.
Bognor replied when Pride switched the ball back to Breach outside the box. Unfortunately the midfielder’s instant shot was always rising.
Crane sped down the right as far as the byline to whip in a cross but substitute Eddie Hutchinson managed to head the ball out under increasing pressure.
Dodd got on the end of a decent through-ball by Beck on 61 minutes. Dodd quickly beat his marker and got a powerful shot away. Banks got an arm to it and managed to dive down to his own parry and gather at the feet of Dodd as he rushed in on the rebound.
Brinkhurst breezed past Wallers on the right but after he had rounded him he realised the linesman had his flag up for offside.
The visitors should have done better when Sonny Cobbs sprinted down the left to cross directly on to the feet of Brinkhurst. But the striker’s first touch was heavy and the ball rolled wide.
On 68 minutes the enthusiastic Dodd was furious with himself after he fired well over the bar from the corner of the box.
The Rocks won a corner after good work from Pride on the left on 73 minutes. Substitiute Toby Pointing stepped up to drive the ball into the box, which eventually fell to Dodd, who composed himself to coolly slot low into the net.
On 79 minutes Pointing drove in another dangerous cross, this time from the right. Dodd was underneath it but Clark Masters, who had also come on as a sub, got there first. He fumbled the ball but gathered again just as quickly. Masters soon complained that he was fouled but after a discussion with the referee no cards were shown.
Good work from the visitors led to Ethan Strevett blasting well over before a good chance went begging on 82 minutes for Borough as Simon Johnson bounced a forward ball towards Eddie Hutchinson.
The player hit the ball on the rise, beating the outstretched Tony Di Bernardo and clipping the right corner frame of the goal.
Eastbourne were getting into some really good positions. And on 84 minutes Brinkhurst broke free from defence and headed for goal at great pace with only Di Bernardo to beat.
The goalkeeper was quick off his line to take advantage of a bad touch the striker made on the run to gather bravely. After the incident the goalkeeper received treatment after appearing to hurt his chest, but was able to continue.
With two minutes to go, good work from Crane on the left led to the full-back squaring the ball to Beck, who dummied, to Dodd whose shot was blocked.
Bognor had the last real chance when Castles darted through in a counter attack but his attempt at threading a pass to Dodd, who was beyond the last defender in space, was blocked.
The Rocks will now travel to Selsey on Thursday for a 7.45pm kick-off. The previously-scheduled game against Moneyfields on Wednesday has been cancelled.
ROCKS: Stoner (Di Bernardo HT), Marzetti (Crane HT), Whitehead (Wallers 17, Pointing 71), Breach (Ide 86), Axten, Bond (Jupp 74), Pride, Birmingham © (Marzetti 86), Beck, Dodd, Castles.
Report by LIAM GOODLEY