Rocks Review: Selsey 2 Rocks 3 (pre-season friendly)

Arron Hopkinson scored on his first Rocks appearance

Arron Hopkinson scored on his first Rocks appearance

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A young and experimental Bognor side ran out victorious in their first friendly match at Selsey – although their twin handicaps from last season seem to be continuing.

Another missed penalty (their ninth straight miss) and the continuing injury curse blighted what was at times a satisfactory run out for Jamie Howell’s squad.

In the early stages Bognor struggled to keep the ball from an enthusiastic Selsey side, but they began to exert their superiority after a quarter of an hour.

Kane Wills tested the home keeper with a shot from long distance, and minutes later had the chance to open the scoring from the spot when ex-Lewes winger Arron Hopkinson was pulled down. Unfortunately Wills’ shot was wide of the post.

The visitors continued to press, and within five minutes did manage to score. Doug Tuck, who had a solid game all evening, fed Hopkinson who sidestepped his marker before firing a powerful shot into the corner of the net.

Dan Kempson came close to adding another before Selsey almost equalised in bizarre fashion. Tuck passed the ball back to keeper Mark Zawadski who was advancing towards the edge of the box - but inadvertently lobbed it well over the keeper.

Somehow the new Rocks keeper scrambled back to save on the line, resulting in a free kick for a handled pass back. With ten Bognor players on the line, the thrice-taken free kick was eventually cleared.

After half an hour the injury curse continued with Dan Beck hobbling off with a hamstring injury. This is likely to mean the popular midfielder will be out for a month.

Shortly before the break, a rare Selsey attack should have produced an equaliser, but Ross Woolf shot tamely and Zawadski gathered the ball comfortably.

Within five minutes of the restart Selsey did equalise. Jon Marzetti bundled over a home forward as he advanced into the box, and ex-Rock Dan Simmonds scored with confidence from the spot. Marzetti almost made amends within a minute, with a superb run down the left wing, He cut into the box and beat two defenders and the keeper before his effort was stopped on the line.

Bognor introduced a number of substitutes at regular intervals, and within three minutes of taking the field Simon Woods put the visitors ahead. Harvey Whyte fed Hopkinson whose perfect cross from the right was headed home by Woods.

Youth team player Johan Van Driel came on and within minutes showed great ball control which almost produced his first goal for the club. Almost immediately he again beat his marker and laid the ball back to Whyte whose shot from 20 yards cannoned back off the bar. Harvey Whyte tried another with a few minutes to go, but an excellent save from the home keeper denied him.

With just a few minutes to go Bognor scored a deserved third goal. Rob Evans, on trial from Moneyfields, cut the ball back to Jon Marzetti who side footed home with great confidence. 
The scoring was not yet over and another former Bognor player pulled one back for Selsey in the last minute. Ross Woolf latched onto a long ball, outpaced the central defenders and beat Zawadski with a firm shot.

It is difficult to take too much from such a game, but Connor Cody played well at centre half before going off with a knock, and of the new players perhaps Hopkinson and Evans impressed the most. However Pompey on Saturday will provide a significantly tougher test for the Rocks.

Bognor: Zawadski, Marzetti, Crane, Tuck, Cody, Beck, Kempson, Wills, Whyte, Pearce, Hopkinson. Subs (all used): Heath, Woods, Evans, Van Driel, Barrett, Miles.

SIMON COOK