Rocks rocked as Stones ruin home run

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A goalkeeping howler by Mark Zawadski set the Rocks on the road to their first home league defeat for more than three months.

Maidstone scored a goal in each half and although Kane Wills’ cool finish with 19 minutes left raised hopes they could salvage a point, a depleted Rocks team rarely threatened to salvage a point.

The defeat left the Rocks still sixth in the Ryman premier table but only eight points off top spot - still a creditable position as they near the halfway point of the season.

It was sixth-versus-fourth at a cold, crisp Nyewood Lane but the Rocks went into the game depleted by injuries and suspensions - with a new knee injury suffered by winger Ben Johnson the big worry on the list of absentees and their reasons for missing out.

The Rocks’ first serious threat came in the fifth minute when Terry Dodd was played in down the right, but his attempted shot was blocked for a corner that the Stones cleared.

It felt like Bognor were in control in the first ten minutes as Maidstone struggled to keep the ball for any length of time.

A sweeping move from right to left by the Rocks ended with Dan Kempson putting the ball back into the six-yard box but after a scramble, Maidstone were happy to concede a corner.

The home team were putting Maidstone under excellent pressure when they had the ball and the tactic should have given them the opening goal on 18 minutes when a back pass went straight to Terry Dodd, but his shot lacked power and Lee Worgan got down to save it.

The first hint of a Stones goal came three minutes later when Alex Brown bustled into the box and forced a good save from Mark Zawadski. The resultant corner led to a near-post shot that wasn’t too far off-target.

Michael Phillips went into the book after fouling a couple of Rocks players within the space of two minutes.

The Kent side were starting to look dangerous on the break and one swift move down their left needed a last-ditch tackle by Paul Hinshelwood to clear the danger. The corner was headed only just over the angle of bar and post by captain Steve Watt.

Tom Phipp was next to try his luck for Maidstone, looping a header wide from a long free-kick.

Rocks keeper Zawadski gifted the Stones the first goal on 31 minutes, completely missing a simple back pass with an air kick and scrambling back to no avail as Rory Hill bundled it in from almost on the line.

The home fans were stunned but had hopes of a quick response when Dodd was fouled a few yards outside the box. Pearce’s curling free-kick was a decent effort but just too high.

We were close to keeper trouble at the other end as Worgan’s clearance hit Pearce but it span out for a goal-kick.

Zawadski went some way to atoning for his error with a sharp save from Brown’s close-range shot on 39 minutes.

Hill ought to have doubled his and Maidstone’s tally four minutes from the break but scuffed a shot wide, wasting an attack in which the visitors had three men forward to only two back.

A good spell of home pressure ended in a Pearce header from Hinshelwood’s right-wing cross being easily gathered by Worgan. Pearce was then inches from connecting with James Crane’s driven ball into the area - a good touch would surely have brought the equaliser.

Pearce was in the mood for a goal and the last action of the first half was a shot by the youngster that drew a leaping save from Worgan.

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Scott Chamberlain was introduced at the restart in place of Dan Kempson.

Maidstone looked as sharp as they had in the middle part of the first half at the start of the second and had the ball in the net on 48 minutes but the offside flag had been long raised.

The visitors did get a second on 50 minutes and it was a simple goal - though not quite as simple as the first. A corner on the Stones left reached the far post and was walloped home by Phipp.

Sometimes you know it is not your night and the Rocks had that feeling when Dodd was found with time and space to spare. He’s been converting similar chances all season but this time his volley went high and wide.

Pearce was beaten to a through-ball by the keeper and his protests that Worgan had carried the ball outside his area fell on deaf ears.

Tuck went into the book on 58 minutes for reasons unknown.

A couple of Maidstone headers flashed just wide as the visitors looked like they might wrap up the points early.

The match had become fairly stretched, with both sides looking capable of carving open the other’s defence. But there was also a lack of quality whenever one team reached the final third.

Dodd was fouled a couple of yards outside the box, allowing Pearce to show off his dead-ball skills again. This time his shot was agonisingly too high for the angle of post and bar.

Skipper Wills gave the Rocks a lifeline 19 minutes from time. Pearce and Dodd combined beautifully down the right and Dodd’s through-ball put Wills in on Worgan. He took his time and sidefooted low into the net to raise the home crowd from their relative slumber.

Immediately Maidstone were on the back foot again as Chamberlain found Godfrey with a long pass over the top of the defence. The striker - looking for his first league goal since September - got it to the byline but saw his cut-back stabbed out for a corner.

Hinshelwood was the Rocks’ saviour with a desperate tackle that stopped Flisher from slotting in a third goal for Maidstone. Flisher was booked moments later for hacking down Hinshelwood.

Stuart Axten was booked on 78 minutes, which looked a harsh decision after a tough challenge on his man in the Maidstone half.

Dan Sackman came on for Godfrey before an interruption for an injury to Maidstone defender Phillips, who was helped off and replaced by Graham Andrew.

Wills was named man of the match by the sponsors and few could argue with that.

Maidstone were content to run down the clock and a second change did just that, Frannie Collin being replaced by ex-Rock Zac Attwood.

Pearce swung in a superb cross from wide on the right which Worgan needed two attempts to claim.

The Rocks had a great chance for an equaliser as the game entered injury time. They won a free-kick just outside the area. Tuck went for goal but his curling effort nestled on top of the net.

The visitors’ final change brought Fabio Saraiva into the fray in place of Hill.

Hinshelwood was the shown the night’s final yellow card for a rash challenge on Flisher as the Stones wasted time in the corner.

In total six minutes of added time were played but the Rocks’ best chance of a threat was wasted by Chamberlain’s lofted ball straight though to the keeper.

Rocks: Zawadski, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck, Axten, John, Kempson, Wills, Dodd, Pearce, Godfrey. Subs: Sackman, Chamberlain, Morey, Ender.

Maidstone: Worgan, Rose, Mills, Watt, Sobers, Phillips, Hill, Brown, Phipp, Collin, Flisher. Subs: Saraiva, Andrew, Robertson, Attwood, Mitten.

Ref: Gary Parsons (Lymington)

Att: 471

STEVE BONE