First league defeat in seven as injury-hit Bognor lose at Enfield - report and post-match reaction
Bognor fell to their first defeat in seven games in a disappointing display at the Queen Elizabeth II Stadium against Enfield - not helped by losing two thirds of their midfield to injury before the break.
Bognor rarely threatened and were hampered in the early stages by two injuries, meaning they struggled to string passes together in a game to forget.
Joe Cook was missing through injury so James Crane, Keaton Wood and Matt Casey were the Rocks back three.
An early corner to the near post was hacked clear by the Rocks. Then Lewis Taaffe got the ball forward but the ball bounced kindly for keeper Amadou Tangara. New Towners signing Shaun Okojie found Lyle Della-Verde with a pass and won a corner. A second corner saw Tangara gather after first spilling the ball.
Bognor’s Tommy Leigh drove in a corner looking for Casey but a defender got there first soon after. Taaffe combined with Billy Bricknell on the left before playing it square across the box and Della-Verde hit it early and low but Wood bravely got in the way. A long diagonal ball from a Josh Urquhart looked dangerous but it was gathered by Tangara.
Brad Lethbridge found Dan Smith with a diagonal ball but Smith's strike from outside the box, Bognor's first real chance, was blocked. Bricknell combined with Scott Thomas before Bricknell curled it at goal and Tangara saved. But he was offside anyway. Then on 16 minutes Doug Tuck replaced by Ashton Leigh after picking up a knock.
Okojie forced a sharp save from Tangara on 19 minutes. Bricknell knocked a shot from outside the box wide. Tangara saved from Sam Youngs. Casey and Lethbridge teed up Harry Kavanagh. who curled it across the area but out for a goal kick. Lethbridge committed Nathan McDonald into a save but he was flagged offside.
Thomas played a weak header back towards his keeper with Lethbridge in pursuit. He beat his marker before but missed the ball, allowing McDonald to gather. A corner flew in but Okojie headed it off a defender and wide.
Jake Flannigan pulled up holding his hamstring and after treatment, Ben Mendoza came on for him on 39 minutes. Ashton Leigh won possession before playing to brother Tommy, who found Kavanagh - his dipping cross won a corner. Tommy Leigh drove in a free-kick but Jonathan Muleba shielded the ball out at the back post.
Urquhart's cross was claimed by Tangara in the last action of the first half, HT 0-0
Enfield took the lead three minutes into the second half. Bricknell spun in a cross from the right which beat Wood in the area before it fell to Taaffe, who bobbled a shot in under Tangara with his right foot. Della-Verde cut the ball inside to Sam Hatton, who stubbed it off a Rocks defender and out of touch.
Della-Verde and Taaffe set up Bricknell who forced a wonderful reaction save from Tangara to stop the second goal going in. Mason Walsh replaced Kavanagh on 58 minutes before Tommy Leigh smashed one wide from outside the box.
Casey was deemed to have brought Okojie down and he went into the book as the Towners sprung on the counter. Della-Verde hit the defensive wall from the free-kick. Bricknell's shot forced a terrific save from Tangara. Junior Mubiayi replaced Taaffe for Enfield on 69 minutes.
A free-kick by Tommy Leigh was picked up by Walsh before he passed it back to Crane, who smashed it over the bar. Mubiayi's low strike forced Tangara into another save down to his right.
A pass over the defence by Tommy Leigh to Lethbridge led to the forward cutting inside and forcing McDonald into his first meaningful save of the game.
Lethbridge won a free-kick with a good run and Marc Weatherstone went into the book for the challenge. Lethbridge got his boot under it to but sent the ball high and wide on 77 minutes. Another free-kick by Tommy Leigh was headed away. Lethbridge was set through again but his cross was hacked clear before Walsh hit a shot over.
Della-Verde came off for Nathan Livings for the hosts. It wasn’t Bognor’s day, though, and Enfield wrapped it up with a second on 88 minutes. Ken Charles beat Casey before making his way back into the area where he slotted it beyond Tangara and into the bottom corner.
Crane was booked for a handball as he tried to get on the end of a wayward cross from Lethbridge.
The Rocks are eighth, six points off the top five, and now take on Brighton & Hove Albion U23s at Nyewood Lane on Tuesday (7.45pm) in the quarter-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup.
Rocks: Tangara, Kavanagh (Walsh 58), Crane, Tuck (A Leigh 16), Casey, Wood, Flannigan (Mendoza 37), T Leigh, Smith, Flint, Lethbridge
Sub not used: Wakley.