THE Rocks will be well satisfied with a 2-0 win over Croydon Athletic in a hard-fought victory in South London on Wednesday night.
With Luke Nightingale unavailable, Terry Dodd made his competitive debut for the club and showed why the Bognor management team had been so anxious to sign him from neighbours Worthing during the summer.
With his lively and combative style, he proved a real handful for the home defence all evening, and his determined running with the ball led directly to the Rocks’ opening goal.
The home side began the match the stronger of the two sides and James Crane had to make an excellent tackle after just two minutes to prevent Croydon going through clear on goal. Minutes later David Graves could have opened the scoring for Croydon, but failed to get his header on target from a free kick.
Bognor began to wrest control of the midfield and James Fraser should perhaps have scored when a Ben Johnson cross found him free on the edge of the six yard box, but he directed his header over the bar.
However the opener was not unduly delayed. On 23 minutes a tremendous passing move between Kane Wills, Jason Prior and Dodd resulted in the latter being pulled down as he burst clear in the box.
Prior appeared to slip as he took the resultant penalty, but the ball still went over the body of the Croydon goalkeeper in the home goal.
Just three minutes later, Bognor conceded a penalty when Johnson handled in the box under pressure. Dave Stevens, who appeared briefly for the Rocks in 2002, hit the ball powerfully to his left, but Craig Stoner pulled off a stunning save much to the relief of his team mates.
Prior had the ball in the net again as the visitors swarmed forward in search of another goal, although this effort was disallowed for an earlier foul on the full-back.
Fraser, who impressed throughout the night, and Dodd combined well just before half-time, and only an excellent save from Mann prevented Dodd doubling the score.
Croydon came out with all guns blazing in the second half, but with Tim Bond back in the centre of defence, Bognor were resolute and in truth did not look likely to concede. Dodd continued to worry the home defenders and it was no surprise when the Rocks went further ahead on the hour.
James Crane gathered at the back and swept forward passing the ball to Johnson. With Crane running superbly off the ball and stretching the defence, Johnson went off an a mazy run of some sixty yards before sliding the ball home in a crowded penalty area, with the aid of a deflection off the hapless Rhys Coleman.
The home side did not give up however and Jamie England almost pulled one back shortly afterwards with a piledriver which just went past Stoner’s right hand post.
Wills tried a long range strike of his own, following a Prior lay-off, which flew just wide and then Bond produced a superbly timed last ditch tackle to deny Roberts as he burst clear into the box.
Shortly before the end Prior should have made it three, when the home defence got in a muddle and presented him with a golden opportunity, only for Charlie Mann to pull off a great save.
BOGNOR: Stoner, Crane, Marzetti (Whitehead 85), Fraser, Axten, Bond, Beck, Wills (Birmingham 74), Prior, Dodd (Breach 80), Johnson. Subs not used: Ide, Blatchford.