Muitt and Lethbridge fire Rocks to comfortable FA Cup victory
Two goals in three minutes by Jimmy Muitt and a strike by Brad Lethbridge on his first start of his second season at Bognor fired the Rocks into the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Petar Durin got a start in goal against Isthmian south-east visitors Sittingbourne ahead of Charlie Searle after the league defeats to Worthing and Carshalton that made it a miserable end to August at Nyewood Lane.
Lethbridge got a start up front following the departure in the week of Tyrell Mitford, who was joined in leaving the club by midfielder Emmett Dunn, who has returned to Chichester City.
In the early stages Ben Clark-Eden played in Dan Smith to win a corner but it was hacked clear. Thomas Fagg got away down the right before playing it back to Lewis West but his cross was well gathered by Durin. A chip forward ball by Doug Tuck was cut out by keeper Tom Benham - then Keaton Wood found Lethbridge with a pass only for the forward’s cross from the left to fly out.
Clark-Eden was fouled tracking back to defend before Fagg had the ball in the net with a low strike and it was disallowed.
Bognor took the lead on 11 minutes when Ashton Leigh's low cross was converted with confidence by Muitt. Chris Webber responded for the Brickies with a long-distance shot that forced Durin into a diving save.
Bognor went further ahead on 13 minutes when Lethbridge's square pass found Muitt in a pocket of space in the area and his low shot took a deflection off a defender's leg before bamboozling Benham and rolling in. Soon Ashton Leigh passed to Tuck, who chipped it over the defence for Muitt - he ran on but shot wide and he was offside in any case.
Lethbridge worked his way past his defender before playing it square to Muitt, who turned and laid it off to Harvey Whyte but he blasted it over the bar. Tommy Leigh found Smith with a pass and he beat the offside flag before he smashed a rising shot over the bar. Cory Walters-Wright went into the book for complaining to the referee. Durin caught a left sided cross by Festus Lori and took a knock from Shaun Brown, requiring treatment.
Bognor went 3-0 up on 31 minutes when a quick ball to Muitt led to him firing the ball to the back post for the unmarked Lethbridge, who tapped it in.
Lewis Chambers' ball across the box was too strong, then Fagg had another shot from long distance but Durin was equal to it. Tuck and Muitt combined before Muitt played it off for Lethbridge, who hit it high and wide from outside the box, ending a good first half for the hosts which had left them with one foot in the next round.
There was a clash of heads as Muitt and Jason Fregene battled in the air after the restart. Both returned to play. Lethbridge did well to beat his marker but couldn't cross for Muitt.
Lethbridge played the ball wide to Muitt who cut it inside to Smith and his first-time effort forced Benham into a save. Lethbridge then brought down Clark-Eden’s pinpoint pass and he picked out Tuck with his cross. Tuck brought the ball down and hit a deflected strike at goal that was saved by Benham.
Bognor were content to sit back in the second half and manage the game and when Benham’s goal kick bounced over the defence to an onrushing Fagg, he hit it well over the bar, failing to trouble Durin.
With 18 minutes left Muitt swung the ball into the back post where Lethbridge smashed it in, but it was disallowed for offside.
Bognor were exploiting gaps and Muitt ran on to a pass before belting a shot against the post from 22 yards. Tommy Leigh followed up with a shot but Benham denied him.
Bognor almost had a fourth on 82 minutes when a back pass caught Benham out and he only just got back to clear it off his own line.
Overall Bognor were comfortable winners and will feel that, all over the pitch, they were stronger than their lower-league opposition. They await Monday's second qualifying round draw and will return to league action next Saturday away to East Thurrock.
Rocks: Durin, Crane, A Leigh, Tuck (Scutt 73), Clark-Eden, Wood, Whyte (c) (Simmonds 81), T Leigh, Smith, Muitt, Lethbridge (Hensel 73)Subs not used: Williamson, Searle.
Attendance - 339