New Years Day. The derby or ‘El Classicoast’ as it’s known on the South Coast, Bognor vs Worthing, Rocks vs Rebels. Personally, it was a great start to the New Year for me lined up as co-commentator on Rocks Radio, Lee Roberts a good mate of mine wanted to balance up the commentary box so I accepted, first time on the airwaves and who knows if it’s the last time?
My first experience of Rocks Radio was back in August lying on Burgau beach in Portugal listening to Lee despairing as Worthing took Bognor apart and comfortably won 3-0 to earn the early bragging rights. This game was a chance for the Rocks to seek and amend that score-line, both sides in very good form going into the game with Worthing joint top twelve games unbeaten and Bognor in sight of the play-off places, defeat for one not so costly, defeat for the other slipping away from seventh spot.
My expectations were for two sides really going at each other from the first whistle, not as robust as Worthing – Horsham on Boxing Day but still full bloodied. What we got didn’t live up to the expectations! Worthing flew out the blocks from the first minute and should have been two or three goals in front in the first ten minutes, Adam Hinshelwood had his side well up for this derby.
As it was though we had to wait for the tenth minute for the Rebels to lead, Keaton Wood caught in possession by the outstanding Alex Parsons who raced clear and slotted past Amadou Tangara. Bognor looked unable to cope with the tenacity of the Worthing players all over the pitch, Joel Colbran and Parsons causing Wood untold problems throughout the half down the right hand side whilst the slick passing from midfield of Jessie Starkey and Ricky Aguiar were no match for the Rocks middle men.
The only joy for Bognor was the left wing play from Ashton Leigh, but unable to pick out a green head in the box on numerous occasions. When he did find Dan Smith’s head, keeper Carl Rushworth was equal to anything coming his way. With Worthing causing so many problems, Bognor opted for an early change with Brad Lethbridge coming on for a bemused Harvey Whyte and switching to a Rocks back four which brought on the best period of the game for Bognor ten minutes before half time, Lethbridge now causing havoc on the left wing but finding no way through the Rebels back line nor past Rushworth, Worthing going in at half time 1-0 up, but wondering if those missed early chances will be rued.
Bognor started the second half the brighter, Worthing on the back foot until an injury to Ashton Leigh seemed to disrupt the momentum for the Rocks and from then on there was just one team in it. Just a couple of minutes after Leigh’s departure, Aguiar’s corner was met superbly by an unmarked Colbran to power his header past Tangara and put Worthing into a 2-0 lead.
That goal really did knock the stuffing out of Bognor, but Hinshelwood made sure his side continued pushing, harassing and pressing Bognor all over the park not giving away an inch of space. Every time Worthing broke away on the counter attack, you sensed another goal and on 70 minutes the game was wrapped up, the assured Aarran Racine sent sub Ollie Pearce away who rounded Tangara but went a little wide, had the sense to tee up the on-rushing Starkey who lashed the ball into the roof of the net to seal a dominant Rebels performance and complete a 3-0 double over their local rivals.
There could have further goals for Pearce and the debut making Marley Marshall but Tangara was equal to both efforts and kept the score-line to a reasonable level. Chances were there for Bognor, but not their day with Smith putting a free header well off target in the dying minutes after Walsh had tested Rushworth from distance but a clean sheet for the young stopper ensured Worthing added three more to their goal difference behind Folkestone Invicta.
Superb team performance from Hinshelwood’s side, Bognor will feel disappointed they didn’t perform anywhere near the levels they can get to, and while defeat moves them down the table a couple of places, there’s plenty of football left to get into those play-offs.
This was Worthing’s first win at Nyewood Lane for 20 years, that was as good a performance you could get to end a run like that, if they can maintain this form for another four months the title can easily be Woodside Road bound.
I really enjoyed being in the commentary box, as I use the blog for games I go to I tend to watch very analytically as well as a fan and this worked just as well, Lee was very complimentary of Worthing’s performance despite how much a loss like this to your local rivals can really get under your skin. If you had a listen, I hope you enjoyed it and it came across well, I can’t say if I’ll be doing it again, another watch this space moment, all I can say is ‘I’d rather be a Rebel than a Rock’…………