Rocks slip to sorry defeat at home to Hungerford

MoM Ben Swallow tries to get the Rocks on the front foot against Hungerford / Picture by Tommy McMillan
MoM Ben Swallow tries to get the Rocks on the front foot against Hungerford / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks fell to their third defeat in four National League South games as two soft Hungerford goals left them empty-handed at Nyewood Lane.

Jimmy Wild gave them hope by pulling a goal back late on after they went 2-0 down but it was a disappointing night for the Rocks, whose eight points from their first four games now seem like they were gained a long time ago.

The loss left Bognor 14th in the table and put them under pressure to get something from trips to Wealdstone on Saturday and Hemel Hempstead next Tuesday.

Bognor have had an injury-hit start to the season and were further disrupted before kick-off when midfielder Doug Tuck - named on the teamsheet - had to withdraw. With striker Ollie Pearce not quite fit after a groin problem, that meant a start for Alex Parsons - originally named on the bench - and a home debut for loan striker Chinedu McKenzie.

Hungerford arrived for their first competitive meeting with Bognor in 12th place in National League South, two places behind the Rocks, who were without a win in their past three.

The first chance of note fell to James Crane when he was left free in the box to head a Ben Swallow corner goalwards on six minutes. It was on target but keeper Lewis Ward leapt to save it. Hungerford's first attack of note came ten minutes in but skipper Rhys Tyler's whipped-in cross from the right was headed away by Calvin Davies.

Swallow was ambitious in trying a shot from 25 yards and it swerved high and wide without troubling the keeper. It was Swallow again causing problems for Hungerford on 19 minutes with a blistering run down the left in which he beat two men before producing a cross into the danger area that a defender hacked away for a corner - which came to nothing. Swallow was comfortably Bognor's best outlet, finding space for another shot at goal from outside the box on 28 minutes, but this one was too high.

Jimmy Muitt had a golden chance to put Bognor on the half-hour when McKenzie's long cross from the left fell to him at the far post but his low drive was deflected wide for a corner. A succession of corners followed before the pressure was ended bya foul on a Hungerford defender. Crane and Swallow combined down the left but Muitt fouled his man in rising to meet Swallow's cross.

Muitt was coming into the game and a nice bit of skill to wrongfoot a defender earned him space for a left-foot shot but like most of the Rocks' efforts, it was too high.

HT 0-0

That made it three-and-a-half games without a goal for the Rocks but they at least started the second half looking a little more lively, McKenzie trying his luck with a low shot.

But the Rocks conceded a rather soft goal on 53 minutes when Chad Field missed a chance to clear on the edge of his own box after possession had been given away in their own half and the ball was worked to Soares, who sidestepped a defender then shot low past Dan Lincoln's dive.

Wild replace McKenzie 12 minutes into the second half. Hungerford brought on Jordan Simpson for Scott Rees at the same time. Bognor were struggling to find any fluency but they might have equalised on 63 minutes when a right-sided corner flashed across the face of goal with no-one able to touch it in.

A foul on Muitt 25 yards gave Swallow another chance from a free-kick but it was deflected for yet another corner. That was met by Crane but the keeper grabbed his low shot at the second attempt. It was 2-0 to Hungerford on 68 minutes and it was Soares who again needed a touch and a low finish after a quick break from his team down their right.

Bognor seemed to have no answer to it for all their possession. But finally, with 13 minutes, they got a lifeline when a determined run by Harvey Whyte - on as a sub for Joe Lea - saw the ball fall to Wild, whose showed neat footwork to beat a defender then fired a low left-footed shot past Tyler to wake the home fans from their slumber.

Jamal Lawrence replaced Nicholas Bignall for Hungerford with ten to go. The Rocks had the ball in the net again as they pressed for an equaliser but Sami El-Abd was offside when he poked in a loose ball from close range.
Pat Suraci replaced Muitt with 88 on the clock. Parsons snapped a shot wide of the near post when a half-chance fell to him outside the area. As the Rocks frantically looked for a point-saver, Whyte was booked for a slightly reckless challenge on an opponent as Bognor lost possession.
The last chance fell to Wild when a cross reached him in the box but his attempt to chest it down into Parsons' path sawe the keeper gather it.

Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Crane, Parsons, El-Abd, Field, Muitt, Back, McKenzie (home debut), Lea, Swallow. Subs: Whyte, Suraci, Wild, Block, Boughton.

Hungerford: Ward, Tyler, Stonehouse, Herring, Thomas, Willmoth, Clark, Rees, Brown, Bignall, Soares. Subs: Simpson, Lawrence, Meechan, Boardman.

Get all the reaction to the defeat, plus the rest of the news from Nyewood Lane, in the Bognor Observer, out on Thursday