Five-star Rocks romp to win over Worthing

Bognor blew away neighbours and big rivals Worthing with a five-star show in front of a 1,006 bank holiday crowd at Nyewood Lane.

Thomas Byrne glances in the opening goal / Picture by Tim Hale
Thomas Byrne glances in the opening goal / Picture by Tim Hale

The Rocks dominated from the first kick to the last and were well on their way to victory by the time Worthing had a man sent off just before half-time at 2-0 down.

There was only going to be one result from the moment Thomas Byrne headed them in front, and further goals from Ollie Pearce, James Fraser (2) - the second of his being a goal of the season contender - and Dylan Barnett made it a perfect day for Bognor and an awful one for Worthing as it ended 5-0.

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Thomas Byrne glances in the opening goal / Picture by Tim Hale

The neighbouring sides were meeting in a league game for the first time since 2012 following Worthing’s promotion from Ryman one south via the play-offs.

Both sides went into the game on the back of good starts to the season and Bognor were sixth and Worthing fifth at the start of play. Those places had been reversed by the end of the afternoon.

Pearce was first to threaten with a shot on the turn in the fourth minute that took a deflection and flew out for a corner as the Rocks began by doing most of the attacking.

Soon Fraser went close with a near-post header from a corner that was just kept out by a defender’s block.

Bognor were playing some lovely stuff early on. Byrne took too long to try to put the finishing touches to one forward move - then the same player had an effort blocked after Barnett and Pearce’s exchange of passes set him up 12 yards out.

On 13 minutes Pearce’s run down the left ended with a cross that was perfect for unmarked Fraser, but he didn’t make a clean connection and it trickled wide.

The Rocks’ early enterprise deserved a goal and it came on the quarter-hour mark as Barnett’s long, straight cross from the left was glanced in by Byrne to send the home fans wild.

Bognor were forced into a change when Doug Tuck had to be replaced by Darren Budd, apparently after failing to run off a niggle.

Scorer Byrne was booked for a late challenge on Harvey Sparks on halfway.

Pearce was close to doubling the lead after a smart 1-2 with Barnett down the left led to him cutting inside and curling a right-foot shot that brought an excellent diving save out of Rikki Banks.

Pearce was just as close a minute later with a curling effort that this time beat the keeper but went the wrong side of the post.

When Worthing did find space for a shot on goal, Reis Stanislaus sent one bouncing off and over the clubhouse roof.

Dan Beck was booked for a challenge on Stanislaus as the visitors finally managed to get some possession in the Rocks half.

Byrne was perfectly placed on 33 minutes to meet a Barnett cross but his low sidefooted effort was smothered by Banks. Then Byrne twisted in the box to create an opening but a defender slid in to deny him.

Ex-Selsey man Omar Bugiel ought to have made it 1-1 ten minutes before the break as Stanislaus played him in on goal, but with only Billy Granger to beat, he dragged his shot wide - and immediately pulled his shirt over his head, knowing what a good chance he had missed.

There was a minor scare for the Rocks when Sami El-Abd left a free-kick as it was lofted goalwards - he thought it was going out but Stanislaus kept it in, but Granger gathered the ball in from the byline.

It was 2-0 thanks to Pearce on 42 minutes. Pearce made the goal too, twisting and turning in the box and sqauring to Byrne - and when the keeper pushed out his shot, Pearce connected with the rebound and put it past Banks.

Worthing were rattled and Zack Newton was sent off in the dying minutes of the first half. It came after he tangled with El-Abd after the pair challenged for a high ball, apparently having kicked out at the defender.

Soon after, El-Abd went into the book - rather harshly - for a foul on Stanislaus. From the free-kick, Granger made a good save to prevent Worthing getting one back.

As the players came off for the break, there were a few comments flying around and one or two players from both sides had to be kept a safe distance from one another.

Minutes earlier, the referee had picked up a glass and a bottle which ended up on the edge of the pitch behind Granger’s goal.

HT 2-0

Winger Walter Figueira came on for El-Abd at the start of the second half - perhaps because the booked defender was involved in a couple of flashppoints just before the break.

Budd, who had a tidy game, almost took advantage of a defensive mix-up seven minutes into the second half, forcing a good save from Banks after a defender had headed the ball out to him as the keeper was about to gather a high ball.

It was a relatively-sedate start to the second half but it was the Rocks doing most of the attacking.

Bognor had the ball in the net again on 59 minutes after dispossessing Worthing just outside their box but an offside flag was up.

Five minures later it was in the net again and this time it did count as Fraser shot low past a helpless Banks.

Pearce was keen to get his name on the scoresheet and won a corner as his shot was half-blocked at the end of a surging run down the inside right channel.

Both sides made a change - Worthing brought on Matt Axell for Matt Piper and Bognor replaced Pearce with Jimmy Muitt.

There was a bit of unrest behind Granger’s goal with one fan, seemingly a Rocks supporter, escorted from the ground after a commotion over a Worthing banner and a section of the Worthing fans setting off some kind of smoke bomb which, like most of their team’s attacks, soon blew itself out.

Budd was the latest in a long line of players shown a yellow card, this one for pulling back an opponent.

Fraser ought to have scored the Rocks’ fourth when he was sent through with Bank to beat but he rolled the shot wide of the far post.

The same player did make it four when when he doubled his tally with 11 minutes to go. Again he was played in down the right by Figueria, but with work to do. Not unlike Gazza in England’s Euro 1996 win against Scotland, he lifted the ball over a defender then smashed a volley beyond Banks and into the far corner.

Bognor weren’t content with four and Fraser almost completed a hat-trick but couldn’t force the ball in at the near post from a corner.

It was 5-0 with two minutes to go, though, as Worthing were robbed of possession deep in their own territory. Figueira weaved his way to the byline and cut it back for Barnett who arrowed a right-footed effort into the top corner to complete a perfect day for Bognor and a miserable one for Worthing.

Byrne’s solo run might have earned a sixth in stoppage time but he shot narrowly wide before Fraser was named MoM, a decision it was hard to argue with.

That’s three wins and three clean sheets on the trot now for the Rocks after a slow start to the season, and it sets them up for Saturday’s foray into the FA Cup, when they host Guildford in the first qualifying round.

Worthing face Carshalton in the same competition and will need a big improvement on this showing.

Rocks: Granger, Sanders, Crane, Tuck, Charman, El-Abd, Fraser, Beck, Byrne, Pearce, Barnett.Subs: Wild, Budd, Figueira, Robinson, Muitt.

Worthing: Banks, Piper, Rents, Wills,Elphick, Metcalf, Newtown, O’Neill, Stanislaus, Bugiel, Sparks. Subs: Axell, Edwards, Brodie, Punter, Fagan.


Get all the latest on the Rocks in the Bognor Observer and all the Worthing news in the Herald - both out Thursday

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