After the excitement of Tuesday’s cracker at East Thurrock, the Rocks came back to earth with a disappointing defeat on a mudbath in Suffolk against a side who had failed to win in three months.
Two goals in the first half-hour settled it to condemn the Nyewood Lane side to their fourth defeat in five matches. They must now regroup ahead of Tuesday night’s home Sussex Senior Cup quarter-final against Eastbourne Borough.
Craig Stoner had broken down in training on Thursday with a recurrence of his knee problem, which meant that although not fully fit himself, Nick Jordan continued in goal. Dan Beck was preferred to Jon Marzetti at right-back.
Unfortunately Bognor experienced the worst possible start when, after just five minutes, Kane Wills was dispossessed in midfield and surrendered the ball to the impressive John Sands, who advanced into the box and shot confidently into the corner of the net.
In the early stages Sands appeared to be Bury’s danger man, and minutes later he was released by an excellent through-ball from Kennedy. His shot from the edge of the box flew just outside Jordan’s left-hand post.
Craig Parker should have extended Bury’s lead when tricky winger Warren Whitely presented him with a great opportunity just a few yards from goal, but his mishit shot allowed the Bognor defence to clear.
Bognor were struggling to create any cohesive football, and although Harvey Whyte did manage a strong shot on goal when he cut inside, the Bury defence stood firm and cleared the ball with ease.
Jordan had to be alert to race out of his goal to clear just ahead of the onrushing Sands, who had beaten the offside trap.
Just before the half-hour mark there was goalmouth action at both ends. Parker had a great header following a corner but powered it inches wide, and from the resulting goal-kick Bognor swept down field and should have made something of the good opportunity. Unfortunately Dan Thompson could not convert the chance, and Bury made the Rocks pay with their second goal a minute later.
Again this resulted from poor Bognor defending, with the ball spinning away from Dan Beck straight into the path of the impressive Sands, who had the easiest of chances to steer the ball goalwards.
Straight from the kick off it seemed Bognor would reduce the deficit. Wills released Whyte and his excellent cross found Thompson a yard out. Somehow he struck the bar when it seemed easier to score, and the chance was lost.
The visitors were now playing with more conviction and Whyte came so close but Marcus Garnham in the home goal made an excellent save. Thompson had an excellent run and his power when on the ball was clearly unnerving the home defenders, and in the last attack of the half Stuart Axten almost pulled one back following a corner.
Although Bognor were two goals adrift at the break, they had showed signs of recovery in the last ten minutes of the half, and continued to press in the second period.
With an hour played it appeared that their pressure had paid off when James Crane forced the ball home, only for a linesman’s flag to disallow it for offside.
Whyte, who had another excellent game, brought a great save out of Garnham as he shot powerfully from 15 yards.
As Bognor pinned the home side back in their half there was always going to be the opportunity for a Bury breakaway, and with a quarter of an hour to go Jordan Patrick should have wrapped the points up when he was able to break clear. His shot was woefully wide however, and Bognor were able to resume their waves of attack on Garnham’s goal.
Thompson and Axten both had good chances but their close-range headers were not strong enough to beat the home keeper, and then Whyte cut in from the left and outpaced two defenders before putting in a low cross from an acute angle.
The ball beat the keeper and then ran agonisingly along the full length of the goal line with no Bognor attacker able to get a touch on it.
Young Ollie Pearce, who came on as substitute, should perhaps have scored following a goalmouth melee, but the ball bobbled on the uneven pitch at the vital moment and the chance was lost.
Just before the end Pearce almost made amends with a superb shot from fully 30 yards which Garnham just managed to tip around the post.
The game ended with a flurry of Bognor corners, and again Thompson and Axten came close.
Unfortunately this was another edition of what is becoming an all-too-regular story, with occasional poor Rocks defending being punished by the opposition, followed by constant Bognor pressure and an inability to convert chances. However, supporters should take heart from the performance of many in what is still an injury-hit side.
Terry Dodd is available for selection on Tuesday and it is hoped that Louis John could return at the weekend.
ROCKS: Jordan, Beck, Stockford (McFarlane), Crane, Axten, Wollers, Kempson (Pearce) , Wills, Thompson, Tuck (Marzetti) , Whyte Unused sub: Andrews.
Report by SIMON COOK
Picture (by TOMMY McMILLAN): Stuart Axten goes close with a header