ROCKS REVIEW: Ramsgate 1 Rocks 3

The Rocks chalked up their fourth straight away win to go three points clear of closest rivals Met Police in the race for the Ryman one south title.

Luke Nightingale, Ben Johnson and Jason Prior were the familiar names on the scoresheet as the Rocks came from a goal down early in the second half to notch another massively-important victory.

Met Police’s 2-2 draw at Burgess Hill, which came after they led 2-1 with 15 minutes left, means the Rocks head to fourth-placed Leatherhead on Saturday with three points separating them from the Met. Whitehawk are another five behind, and all three have nine games left.

On a cold and misty night at the Southwood Stadium, the Rocks - without Perry Ryan, Michael Birmingham and James Fraser - were followed by about 50 of their hardy fans - most of whom had made the same journey 17 days earlier only for the game to be called off an hour before it was due to start.

On a bumpy pitch which made good football difficult, Bognor started well and on nine minutes Johnson went on a mazy run only to be challenged in the box. He stumbled but stayed on his feet, and no penalty was given.

Ramsgate offered nothing until the quarter-hour mark when Craig Stoner had to come out quickly to save at the feet of Stuart Vahid after he was played clear.

A lovely passing move involving Kane Wills, Johnson and James Crane ended with a cross to the far post that Rams keeper Jack Smelt did well to tip away from Nightingale beneath the crossbar.

A Prior header was cleared off the line by James Gregory before Ramsgate had the better of the final ten minutes of the second half.

Simon Pettit should have scored in a scramble and Johnson cleared off the line before a Mike Lovell header clipped the top of the bar.

The Rocks were glad to go in at 0-0 - but they fell behind in the second minute of the second half to a soft penalty.

A poor backpass led to Stoner challenging Lovell just inside the box and the striker went down in installments to win a penalty which Warren Schulz, who scored the Rams’ goal at Nyewood Lane last month, converted. Stoner was booked for the challenge.

The goal inspired the Rocks, who came roaring back at their hosts and levelled on 55 minutes.

Dan Royce, starting because of that midfield injury crisis, crossed for Nightingale to score his 19th league goal of the season with a cheeky backheel.

The visitors’ tails were up and on 61 minutes they took the lead when Johnson showed it’s not was just Prior and Nightingale who know how to bury a header, planting one past Smelt after a superb move that started in the Rocks’ own box and involved Wills and Crane.

Ramsgate poured forward looking for an equaliser and left gaps which first Royce then Wills almost exploited with a third.

Stoner had to save with his legs from a Lovell effort but the Rocks wrapped it up with 13 minutes left.

Crane, many people’s man of the match, surged down the right and cut into the box before being fouled. Prior’s penalty was saved by Smelt but he could only push it back out to the striker to put away his 22nd league strike of 2010-11.

Stoner made another excellent save from Lovell at the end and Jon Marzetti replaced Matt Whitehead as the Rocks comfortably saw out time to the delight of their vociferous travelling fans.

Next up it’s Leatherhead on Saturday, when an even larger green army will be there to back a team who have now won three on the bounce.

ROCKS: Stoner. Crane, Whitehead (Marzetti), Wills, Axten, Bond, Beck, Royce, Prior, Nightingale, Johnson. Unused subs: Turner, Wood.

Report by Simon Cook