Injuries to Alex Parsons and Jason Prior meant Bognor made their longest journey of the season to Leiston with a threadbare squad hoping to avenge last season’s heavy defeat. But they ended up losing 3-2, twice fighting back from two down but just failing to salvage a point.
A glorious sunny day greeted both teams in front of a crowd of 214, which included a reasonable number from Bognor.
Leiston had the early play and Conor Hubble shot over after good build-up by Heath and Francis. Bognor replied immediately and a good run by Harvey Whyte saw the final pass just fail to reach Stuart Green when through.
Leiston continued to control the middle of the park and Parker shot wide after good play by Hubble, and then Bognor scrambled the ball clear after Chris Winterton missed a cross from a corner.
With 30 minutes gone Bognor started to get into their stride and take the play to the hosts. Ollie Pearce robbed Saker, and his pass found Green who curled the ball into the top left-hand corner. A goal looked certain until a last-minute outstretched hand by keeper Gay, and the bar denied Bognor the lead. From the resulting corner James Crane saw his shot scrambled clear.
With half-time approaching, a counter-attack by Leiston saw the hosts take a freak lead.
Brothers looked to play the ball behind Josh Warren, only for it to hit the referee and deflect into the path of Joe Francis, who fired past Winterton into the bottom corner.
What was said at half time by the Bognor management obviously had a desired effect. With Omarr Lawson on for Warren in a tactical switch Bognor started with different menace in their game.
On 47 minutes Pearce broke down the right and his cross was bundled home by Lawson with his first goal for the club.
Bognor continued to dictate the early second-half play and on 56 minutes a Dan Sackman header from a corner on the right was cleared off the line and Crane’s shot in the resulting melee hit Green on the line to deny Bognor the lead.
This spurred Leiston into action and a period of home pressure seemed certain to bring a goal. Winterton saved well from Parker, Crane blocked on the line a shot from Francis, and a Harry Medway mistake went unpunished.
On 68 minutes another defensive error by Medway was this time punished by Hubble to restore a home lead.
Bognor took this in their stride and went looking for an equaliser.
Omar Lawson had a goalbound shot blocked in the box by the Mitchell’s hand while Jake Thomson saw two shots well saved and then headed over in front of goal.
With game entering injury time there was a flurry of drama. With Bognor stopping expecting a free kick, Francis broke away down the Bognor right to beat Winterton on his near post.
From the restart Green went down the right and his cross was audaciously backheeled in Pearce to make it 3-2.
Unfortunately there was no time for a another attack as the referee blew his final whistle.
A disappointing result, in a scrappy stop-go game which was hit by some very poor decisions by the match officials.
On the positive side of things, Pearce had one of his best games of the season, Green looked fit again and Lawson looks to be a very useful addition to the squad.
However the team looked short on numbers and with injuries and loan players returning to their home clubs, a few new faces may be required.
BOGNOR: Winterton, Warren (Lawson), Medway, Robson, Sackman, Tuck, Whyte (Branford), Thomson, Crane, Pearce, Green. Sub not used: Oatway.