IF you’d written a script for Jason Prior’s first appearance at Nyewood Lane for nearly three years, it probably would have involved him scoring a hat-trick.
And that’s exactly what he did - with a bit of help from a defender and the goalie - as the Rocks completed back-to-back wins for the first time since April.
The big pre-match talking point was that this was Prior’s first game in front of the Nyewood Lane fans since he left the club halfway through the 2011-12 season.
Prior is back with the club on a month’s loan from Margate and his presence in the team drew some extra bodies through the turnstiles.
Hampton arrived at a mild but overcast Nyewood Lane in tenth place in the Ryman premier - six places ahead of the Rocks, whose progress so far this season has been hit by poor form at home, something they were anxious to put right here.
The Rocks were first to threaten when Ollie Pearce burst into the area and forced a corner. Visiting keeper Jack Norton was put under pressure by Dan Sackman after the kick was only half-cleared, but he eventually gathered.
There was a hold-up after Pearce and a Hampton defender clashed heads, the Rocks man coming off worse and needing a bandage to stop blood flowing from the wound. The incident led to a free-kick from which Norton claimed the ball under pressure from Craig Robson.
The Beavers’ first foray forward ended with a wild shot well over Chris Winterton’s bar. But it was a fairly low-key start in front of another quiet home crowd.
Hampton were almost ahead on 14 minutes but Ben Osman flashed a volley wide of the goal after Luke Wanadio crossed from the right.
Prior was almost able to seize on a miss by Norton on 17 minutes but the ball ran away with him just as it seemed he might score.
Sackman just failed to get a touch on a teasing Jake Thomson free-kick into the box and then Harry Medway stopped Wanadio racing clear with a beautifully-timed tackle.
The game was being rather spoiled by a succession of free-kicks - though neither side was helping the flow of things by constantly giving possession away too cheaply.
Prior had a sight of goal on 24 minutes when Alex Parsons’ cross found him at the far post, but he hit his effort into the ground and it bounced up and into Norton’s hands.
Harvey Whyte tested Norton with a well-struck volley on 26 minutes after a neat build-up down the right.
The Rocks took the lead on 30 minutes and it was that man Prior who was responsible. Pressure in the area eventually led to Parsons floating a free-kick to the far post, where Prior headed it firmly back across the keeper. It was goal-bound but a defender got the last touch in failing to keep it out. But there was no way anyone was going to take the goal away from Prior.
Hampton were almost on level terms four minutes later when Moussa Diarra sent a looping far-post header over Winterton but, happily for the hosts, also over the bar. Then Tashan Adeyinka failed to get his head on another decent Hampton cross.
Bognor broke and Whyte was just beaten by the keeper to a ball into the penalty spot.
Luke Edgar was booked and was extremely lucky not to be sent off for a cynical foul on Parsons just inside his own half as Bognor broke looking for a second goal.
Charlie Moone beat two Rocks players 25 yards out but sent his shot well wide.
Craig Robson was booked for a deliberate trip on a Hampton player who was trying to lead a breakaway after a Rocks attack broke down.
Bognor began the second half on the front foot with Jake Thomson - who was having a good game in the centre of the park - spraying a lovely pass out to Medway on the left, but his ball into the box was too close to the keeper.
Parsons wanted a penalty on 51 minutes after being shoulder-charged as he ran on to a ball into the box, but the referee ignored the claim. Then the same player got away down the right and sent in a low cross that was only a couple feet in front of Prior, who couldn’t touch it in.
Prior was next to try his luck, firing an angled drive wide from the corner of the box.
Hampton brought on Jerome Federico for George Wells on 57 minutes.
It was 2-0 in the 58th minute as Prior benefitted from a howler by Norton. The keeper came out to the edge of the area intending to hoof a long ball clear, but he hardly got a touch and the ball trickled towards the goal - and Prior was just in time to control it and fire it into the roof of the net as the poor keeper scrambled back.
Omarr Lawson, recently recruited from Dulwich, came on for Pearce on the hour.
Parsons was having an excellent afternoon on the right and another lovely first touch gave him space for a cross that Norton just grabbed at a stretch. A minute later Parsons was at it again, forcing a corner with another super cross from the right touchline.
It was Bognor doing most of the attacking as they sought a third goal that would seal it, and Hampton were forced into another change - bringing on Paris mason for Adeyinka.
Medway was booked on 70 minutes for fouling Hampton’s dangerman Wanadio, giving the visitors a free kick a few yards outside the box, but it was straight at Winterton.
Bognor made another change with 18 minutes left, Medway replaced by Curtis da Costa.
Saheed Sankoh was denied a shot at goal with only Winterton to beat by Sackman’s timely clearance for a corner on 74 minutes.
Prior completed a fairytale return to Nyewood Lane with 14 minutes left with his best goal of the afternoon, completing his hat-trick with a far-post volley from sub da Costa’s long, high cross.
Lawson looked a useful addition to the squad although was nowhere near the target with one long-range shot.
Prior might have had a fourth but directed a header straight at a grateful Norton, then Whyte blazed over from 20 yards with Hampton looking disspirited.
Prior was substituted two minutes from time, Josh Warren replacing him, and the hat-trick hero was duly named man of the match as he went off to a great ovation from a home support who had been remined exactly what they’d been missing.
Thomson tried to grab some glory in injury time with a shot from 50 yards but the keeper had it covered.
The last action saw Diarra come off injured, to be replaced by Harry Mills.
Bognor will look to build on this win - which took them up to 11th place, their highest position of the season to date - when they host Tonbridge on Tuesday evening.
Rocks: Winterton, Crane, Medway, Tuck, Sackman, Robson, Whyte, Thomson, Prior, Parsons, Pearce. Subs: Da Costa, Warren, Branford, Lawson, Green.
Hampton & Richmond: Norton, Edgar, Roberts, Williamson, Diarra, Sankoh, Wanadio, Osman, Adeyinka, Moone, Wells. Subs: Federico, Kewley-Graham, Chendlik, Mills, Mason.
Ref: M Eva (Farnham)
Report by STEVE BONE