A NIGHT to remember – a night to be proud of being a Rock.
That is the only way to sum up an evening that goes down in history as one the greatest occasions Nyewood Lane has seen in years.
Tuesday night saw:
* A huge effort by club officials and fans to get a game on – including the novel idea of parking a row of cars, with engines running, along a freezing strip of the pitch.
* A crowd of more than 500 turn out despite icy conditions and this being Bognor’s fourth home game in 11 days.
* Two superb goals – the second of them a 30-yard strike by James Crane that some said was the best strike they’d ever seen at the Lane.
*Famous non-league top-tier side Altrincham beaten to put the Rocks in the last 16 of the FA Trophy for the first time in their history.
Manager Jamie Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick both said the win was up there with the best days and nights they’d experienced in their many years at Bognor.
The 2-1 victory over the National League side earned Bognor a trip to National League South team Sutton in the third round on Saturday, February 6.
It also took the club’s prize money from this season’s competition to £20,950.
Manager Howell said: “That was right up there with the best Bognor occasions.
“I played for Bognor in the Trophy against Hereford when they were in the same league Altrincham are in – and we let in seven.
“Everything aligned for us on Tuesday. We played well – as we have been doing at home for some time– and Altrincham had a few injuries and had only played their previous-round tie three days earlier.
“We still had to play very well, though, and we did. Everyone did their job and as the game went on we got more and more belief.
“Craig Robson’s header for the opener was superb and then Craney’s winner – what can you say?
“I think he meant it! I don’t know who was more surprised that it went in, Craney or everyone else.
“We’d not let Altrincham have too many openings but knew a team of that calibre can punish one lapse, and that’s what they did to equalise.
“For us to come back again and get a winner was incredible.”
It leaves the Rocks just THREE games from the Wembley final and Howell said it was impossible not to dream. But he said: “Sutton away will be very, very tough in the next round and even if we were to get through that, any quarter-final or semi-final would be against a top side.
“I’ve never won at Sutton and we were well beaten in the FA Cup there a few years back. But we’re a different proposition now.” Howell praised everyone who helped get the pitch fit and the game on – including one player who moved his car on to the pitch then turned the engine off!
Killpartrick added: “The game was the best I’ve known. From the effort to get the game on, through to the performance on the pitch, everyone pulled together. The Bognor community won it.”
The big task now is for Bognor to focus back on the league – the season’s top priority. They go to Wingate and Finchley on Saturday.
Winger Alex Parsons will be out for another week or two with a knee problem, though it is not cruciate damage, as had been feared.
Harvey Whyte has a groin strain which will need monitoring – but there are no other new injury worries.
The Rocks are due to host Burgess Hill in the county cup next Tuesday, while the Trophy progress will mean at least one more league match being rearranged.
The date originally agreed with Burgess Hill for Bognor’s rearranged Ryman League match, February 24, has now been allocated for the semi-final of the Sussex Senior Cup. As either Burgess Hill or the Rocks will be the semi final - because they meet in the quarters - the league match will take place on Wednesday, March 9 with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Other reaarangements will see Bognor go to Leatherhead on Wednesday, March 16 and Harrow on Tuesday, March 22.
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