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Rocks Review: Rocks 3 Bridgwater 0 (FA Trophy)

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Ashley-Paul Robinson marked his return to the Rocks starting line-up by scoring two penalties as Bognor comfortably marched into the next round of the FA Trophy at the expense of Bridgwater Town. 
Harvey Whyte was also on target with his first Rocks goal of the season at a bright but chilly Nyewood Lane.

Two changes were made to the starting XI that lost by the same scoreline to Harrow Borough in midweek, with Robinson and Lewis Stockford coming into the side in place of Carl Walshe, who dropped to the bench, and the absent Mu Maan.

Rocks supporters will have been heartened with the sight of recently-injured players joining in with the pre-match warm-up, as well as the first sighting of Dan Beck on the hallowed turf this season.

However, there was drama before a ball had been kicked as substitute keeper Tom Boyle suffered a badly-dislocated finger while being put through his paces with the coaching staff - becoming the latest casualty on an ever-growing injury list.

Bridgwater - who play one level below in the Southern League division one south and west - started brightly in the opening few minutes but without causing too much concern for home keeper Craig Stoner. But they soon found that much of the play would be in their own half as the Rocks started to stamp their mark of authority.

Despite beginning to enjoy much of the possession, 16 minutes were on the clock before the hosts had forced visiting keeper Luke Purnell into a save. A neat passing move saw Robinson set up James Crane, whose curling effort was palmed away by Purnell into the path of Stockford arriving at the far post, but the former Pompey youngster drilled the rebound into the side netting.

Stockford then saw his 18-yard effort charged down and trickle into the grateful hands of Purnell before the visitors suffered a setback, losing defender Kye Thomas who came off considerably worse after making a challenge and was stretchered off.

Just past the half-hour mark, Stockford let fly from outside the penalty area only for the ball to drift harmlessly over - before the Rocks eventually found themselves in front on 38 minutes.

From Steve Harper’s corner, a melee in the box saw Crane impeded which resulted in referee Mr Wicks pointing to the spot. Up stepped Robinson who, as cool as you like, comfortably converted giving Purnell no chance.

Just before the break the lead was doubled when Whyte received the ball from Harper on the left, taking one touch before neatly dispatching past the outstretched fingers of Purnell from just inside the box.

HT 2-0

With a two goal cushion, chances were few and far between in the second period but in the 64th minute, Whyte’s first-time strike from Robinson’s pass bounced just wide of the far post.

Bridgwater - second from bottom of their division - had their best chance of the match when Jon Vance latched onto a dangerous cross-field ball but with just Stoner to beat, blasted into the side netting.

But any hope of the visitors getting themselves back into the contest ended in the 74th minute with the second penalty of the match.

Whyte played a lengthy crossfield one-two with Robinson before Purnell clattered into him chasing the loose ball. Up stepped Robinson with the resultant spot-kick, crashing home his second in emphatic style into the top corner.

Robinson, Stockford and Harper would soon find themselves making way for Walshe, Ryan Morey and Connor Cody and a few minutes from time it was the latter of the young trio that almost set up a fourth, when his low cross from the right was met at the near post by Whyte but Purnell was on hand to make a smart stop.

At the final whistle, Bognor found themselves £3,250 richer, with the next round to be played on Saturday, November 10, meaning the Ryman Premier clash with Hampton and Richmond on that date will be re-arranged.

ROCKS: Stoner Marzetti Wollers Crane John Partridge Harper (sub Morey 84) Stockford (sub Cody 82) Robinson (sub Walshe 77) Whyte Tuck. Unused sub: Dodd.

BRIDGWATER: Purnell, Thomas, Simpson, Veal, McGrath, Legg, McLennan, Mountford, MacNab, Vance, Veal. Subs: Mercieca, Fitzpatrick, Viney.

Att: 313

by ROB GARFORTH

 

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