Prior double keeps Rocks’ winning home run going

Jason Prior and team-mates celebrate his fourth-minute opener against VCD / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jason Prior and team-mates celebrate his fourth-minute opener against VCD / Picture by Tommy McMillan

A goal at the start of each half by Jason Prior took him past 20 Ryman League goals for the season and earned the Rocks their fifth straight home win in all competitions.

Bognor started the day in seventh place, VCD second from bottom, and the victory extends the Rock’ winning home run, which goes back to November 28 and covers three different competitions.

The result lifted them back up to sixth place in the table and put them in good heart for Tuesday night’s home clash with Altrincham in the second round of the FA Trophy.

Against VCD, the Rocks couldn’t have had a better start, going ahead in the fourth minute when James Crane’s ball into the box went to Prior, who controlled, turned and fired past keeper Robert Budd.

The home side were quickly back on the attack after their early lift but spurned a couple of half-chances to go two up within six minutes.

The woodwork denied Ollie Pearce on eight minutes when he met Alfie Rutherford’ cross on the volley only for it to hit the underside of the bar and cannon back out to play. But it was a terrific up-tempo start by the Rocks.

Then it was Doug Tuck’s turn to miss a great chance, sidefooting horribly wide after Stuart Green set him up 12 yards out.

Tuck was more accurate in the 14th minute when the ball fell perfectly to him 15 yards out after a brisk attack down the right but Budd made an excellent save diving to his left.

The first scare for Bognor came in the 17th minute when Grant Smith was troubled by the sun in his eyes as he tried to claim a cross. He was fouled as he failed to gather it and needed treatment. VCD got the ball in the net but a foul had been given.

Rutherford bore down on the VCD goal midway through the half but was forced wide by a defender. Then Rutherford seemed certain to score after Pearce and Prior teed him up yards from goal but a defender got a block in.

Pearce was almost through on the keeper but was thwarted by a defender, but he was still able to tee up Rutherford, whose low shot was saved by the keeper and then deflected out for a corner which was cleared.

A rush of blood by VCD keeper Budd left Pearce with a chance to score a spectacular goal from 30 yards, but his creditable effort was just wide.

Bognor were winning a succession of corners but on the whole VCD’s defence were dealing with them soundly.

Prior saw a shot deflected wide from 25 yards but once again the corner came to nothing.

Dan Beck was rather harshly booked for a sliding tackle on Richard Avery inside the VCD half.

A scramble from yet another corner ended with a goalbound shot being blocked almost on the line, and the Rocks were thinking it might have been stopped by a hand.

HT 1-0

There was one change for VCD at the start of the second half - Ashley Probets replacing Mathias Bakare.

Green went down injured as the Rocks try to find a second goal their dominance deserved. But he was okay to continue after treatment.

The Rocks had scored a few minutes into the first half - and they repeated the trick in the second.

Fifty minutes were on the clock when Pearce got away down the right and squared it into Prior in the penalty area. He took one touch to steady himself then shot low past Budd at his near post to give Bognor a bit of daylight.

VCD might have halved their deficit a minute later but Donovan Simmonds sidefooted high and wide after Ricky Sappleton laid a pass off to him ten yards from goal.

Tuck sent a fierce shot narrowly wide after a Pearce free-kick was headed clear to him 30 yards out.

Rutherford’s high cross from the left almost found Green on the penalty spot but a defender got it away.

Green was denied by the keeper’s legs as he ran on to a Rutherford pass on 67 minutes and although the ball ran loose, there was no white and green shirt to take advantage.

From the corner the ball fell to Green 20 yards out but his effort was tipped over. The next corner fell to Crane, and his header was cleared off the line.

VCD brought on Sam Long for Avery with 17 minutes left.

Smith had to be at his best with a low diving save to keep out Sappleton’s close-range header on 78 minutes.

Gary Charman replaced the hard-working Green a minute later.

VCD went even closer to making it 2-1 nine minutes from time when Long’s header bounced down and inches the wrong side of the post from Probets’ right-sided free-kick.

A final VCD change saw Nigel Neita replaced L’Heureux Menga.

As VCD threw men forward the Rocks tried to exploit the gaps and Rutherford ought to have made it 3-0 in the 90th minute when he was put through on the keeper, but he took it too close to Budd.

In stoppage time Jordan Warren came on for Rutherford.

Beck and then Prior had shots blocked in the final passage of play.

The win took the Rocks back up to sixth spot - and they have games in hand on several of the top five.

Rocks: Smith, Nilsen, Crane, Tuck, Field, Robson, Green, Beck, Prior, Pearce, Rutherford. Subs: Charman, Warren, Whyte.

VCD: Budd, Bakare, Joseph, Avery, Bruce, Tchonang, Tejaiye, Neita, Simmonds, Sappleton. Subs: Proberts, Brickwood, Nwoklji, Long, Menga.

Ref: Anthony Foster

Att 477


* The Rocks finally know who they will play in round two of the FA Trophy. Leamington got their pitch fit for play in their first-round replay with Altrincham today at the sixth time of asking and it was Altrincham, of the Conference, who went through - winning 2-1 in extra-time.

They will visit Nyewood Lane on Tuesday, which means Wednesday’s visit to Leatherhead will be postponed.

One other rearrangement has been confirmed too - the visit to Burgess Hill on Wednesday, February 24, is off as one of the two sides will be in Sussex Senior Cup semi-final action that week (they play each other in the last eight). The league game will now take place on Wednesday, March 9 (7.30pm).

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