Rocks' poor run continues at Hemel Hempstead

Jimmy Muitt's goal from the spot was Bognor's only bright spot at Hemel / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jimmy Muitt's goal from the spot was Bognor's only bright spot at Hemel / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor were left to reflect on a fifth defeat in six games - and a third in a row - when Jimmy Muitt's penalty proved insufficient to secure any return from their visit to Hemel Hempstead.

The 3-1 defeat leaves them 18th in National League South and it's now four weeks since their last win, the 6-2 triumph over Whitehawk.

Hemel started the stronger and created an early chance for Alex Osborn, who drove wide when he should have got his effort on target. Then Sami El-Abd slipped and handed a chance to Rowan Liburd, who also spruned the opportunity given to him.

Bognor had a chance to go ahead when Calvin Davies played in Ben Swallow, and his cross reached Chinedu McKenzie close to goal - but keeper Laurie Walker smothered it on the line. A decent Rocks spell saw James Crane shoot from the edge of the box, Walker holding it well, and if anything the visitors looked the most likely to score.

But on 20 minutes El-Abd conceded a free-kick just outside the area that earned him a booking and Jordan Parkes stepped up to fire home a fine free-kick. It was almost a carbon copy of the goal that had put Wealdstone ahead against the Rocks on Saturday.

Justin Amaluzor had a powerful shot kept out by Dan Lincoln, and then seemed certain to go one better and score, only to shoot wide. But Bognor levelled on 33 minutes when Harvey Whyte's superb run into the box ended in a foul and Muitt stepped to slam home the spot kick.

Hemel threatened within 30 seconds of the restart, believing they should have had a penalty of their own, but the referee waved play on when a forward went to ground.

The second half saw Bognor with a strong wind at their backs and they began it well enough with Swallow seeing plenty of the ball down the right but the Rocks unable to carve out decent chances. And nine minutes into the half Hemel were ahead again when Liburd was able to waltz through the hesitant defence and tap into an empty net.

The hosts' tails were up and they had several chances to add to their tally. Lincoln made one good double save from Liburd and the goal led a charmed life as cross after cross caused havoc, with two efforts hacked off the line.

The Rocks' fate was sealed ten minutes from the end when Charlie Sheringham had the simple task of heading in a corner from close range. It left the travelling Green Army to negotiate a long journey home through the wind and rain and wonder where their next win would come from.

The FA Cup brings Bognor's next challenge, with Weston super Mare visiting Nyewood Lane in the second qualifying round on Saturday, and all will hope a change in competition will bring a change in fortune. Meanwhile efforts to strengthen the squad will continue, and fans will hope a knock picked up by Muitt, which saw him subbed in the second half, does not prove serious.

Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Muitt (Parsons 79), Beck, McKenzie (Pearce 62), Davies (Wild 83), Swallow. Subs not used: Suraci, Lea.