A patched-up, injury-hit Bognor squad fought hard to earn a draw at Hampton’s Beveree ground – a ground where they have not enjoyed much success for many a year.
Former Pompey forward Jack Maloney made his debut for the Rocks on the wing but rarely had the opportunity to show what he might be capable of. The home side were still eyeing the relegation scramble beneath them and battled throughout in their attempt to gain three points.
This was certainly not a game for the purists but there is no doubt Bognor showed plenty of spirit to come back from the blow of a late goal...Simon Cook
Hampton took the game to the visitors straight from the start and their powerful strikeforce of Charlie Moone and Duncan Culley combined well to create their first opportunity in the opening minutes. Moone’s shot was powerfully hit from 18 yards, but just wide of Chris Winterton’s far post.
Ryan Newman almost got in to score as Hampton pressed but Winterton saved well, while at the other end Callum Overton was put through by Jason Prior’s neat pass. His shot was hurried and Seb Brown saved comfortably.
The game developed into a contest that was end-to-end without anyone being able to impose real quality on their play. Both goalkeepers were being kept on their toes, with Brown saving well as Overton almost managed to lob him from outside the area and Winterton defying Kevant Serbony’s cross-shot with an acrobatic leap.
Jason Prior appears to becoming more match-fit with every game he plays and in the first half he worked tirelessly to bring others into the game.
He almost gave the Rocks the lead with a trademark bullet of a header from Jake Thomson’s corner on the half-hour mark, only for Mark Onyemah to head off the line.
Although by now Bognor appeared to be enjoying most of the play, the home side threatened whenever Moone or Culley surged forward.
Nathan Culley could have opened the scoring just before the break with a mazy run into the box, requiring another excellent save by Winterton down at his near post.
A deep cross from Thomson into Hampton’s box was almost fumbled by Brown, but he managed to grab it at the second attempt to thwart the onrushing Prior. Within moments the game swung the other way and young Snorre Nilsen was excellently placed to head off the line following a goalmouth scramble.
On balance Bognor had just shaded the first half, but the second half belonged to the Beavers. Bognor were mainly on the back foot, apart from an impressive run down the right from Maloney.
He fed Alex Parsons and he was clipped as he burst into the box. Instead of going down he passed across the goal and Prior was so close to scoring an opener.
The home side took control with Kevant Serbony beating the Bognor back-line but then sliding the ball well wide when perhaps he should have scored. Tom Collins should have scored following a melee in the goalmouth, but somehow Winterton got his fingertips to the shot when all seemed lost.
With Hampton pouring forward at every opportunity there was the feeling that perhaps Bognor might be able to snatch something on the break. Prior did have half a chance but his shot from 25 yards was well gathered by Brown.
Minutes later, Overton ran almost the length of the pitch following a home attack, but he was disposed as he tried to line up a shot.
Winterton had been having an excellent game in the Bognor goal and with an hour gone he managed a tremendous double save to deny Moone.
Bognor’s injury jinx seems to be never-ending and Nilsen hobbled off after a heavy tackle. Craig Robson then needed extended treatment before coming back to defend manfully.
As the game entered the dying minutes it seemed as if Bognor would get away without conceding, particularly when Moone headed wide with just a few minutes left. However an unnecessary free-kick was conceded on the left and Jerome Federico’s cross was forced home by the towering Moussa Diarra through a crowded six-yard box with just three minutes remaining.
It looked like heartbreak for the Rocks, but they themselves earned a free-kick outside the box as the game entered the 90th minute. Jake Thomson flighted the ball invitingly into the box and Dan Sackman rose to power home an impressive header, to the delight of the fans behind the goal.
There was still time in added time for Hampton to earn a couple of corners but the Bognor defence held firm.
This was certainly not a game for the purists, but there is no doubt Bognor showed plenty of spirit to come back from the blow of a late goal and on balance neither side really deserved to lose.
They’re on their travels again on Saturday – Witham the destination – and despite taking only one point from two games this week, they know a decent end to the campaign could yet push them into the play-off frame.
Bognor: Winterton, Nilsen (Lawson 64(, Crane, Oatway, Sackman, Robson, Maloney (Morey 66), Thomson, Prior, Overton (Wedlake 80), Parsons. Sub not used: Cody.
by Simon Cook