Rocks 2 Gloucester 2: Bognor blow 2-0 lead

New loan signing Kristian Campbell challenges against Gloucester/ Picture by Tommy McMillan
New loan signing Kristian Campbell challenges against Gloucester/ Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks blew a two-goal lead and had to settle for a point against Gloucester.

Goals in each half by Ollie Pearce and Jimmy Muitt put them in charge with 20 minutes left but two strikes by sub Edward Williams meant City went home with a point. It was a golden chance for Bognor to claim their first league win since August 15 and they'll be upset that they didn't hold on. But they can at least be encouraged by a performance much better than seen in recent league games. The draw leaves Bognor still 18th in the league as attention turns to next Saturday's FA Cup visit to Eastbourne Borough.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon at the Lane but kick-off was delayed by 20 minutes after Gloucester were held up in traffic chaos affecting much of the south after the M3 was closed for several hours. Bognor gave a debut to 21-year-old left-back Kristian Campbell a day after recruiting him on a month's loan from Bromley. That saw James Crane switch to right-back and Calvin davies move into midfield to cover the absence of Dan Beck, out with a suspected broken rib.

It was Gloucester who started the strongest despite their long journey and Joe Parker forced Dan Lincoln in to an excellent save when he met Karnell Chambers' right-wing cross at the near post. The Rocks' first move was a good one, started by Campbell on the left and ending with a cross by Ben Swallow but keeper Tom Hadler beat Crane to it.
Chambers weaved into the area in the sixth minute but found the side netting with a well-hit shot. Harvey Whyte had Bognor's first shot at goal on 13 minutes from just outside the area but it drifted wide. Whyte then impressed the crowd with neat footwork to win the ball in his own half before trying to find Pearce with a long pass but it had too much on it.

Campbell got forward for a fierce volley after a Whyte cross fell to him but a defender got in the way. Bognor were getting on top and Crane's run and pass set up Muitt for a 20-yard shot but it went the same way as Whyte's effort had minutes earlier. Campbell was involved again in a move that ended with a Whyte shot that was horribly high and wide.

An already-delayed game was held up again for five minutes when Crane fell awkwardly and had to be treated and then taken away on a stretcher. It appeared to be a shoulder injury and was later confirmed as a bad dislocation. A wait for an ambulance proved in vain and Crane was eventually taken to hospital by car. He is set to be out for around six weeks.

Bognor won a free kick on the left, only feet outside the box, after Pearce's persistence drew a foul, but Swallow's delivery was headed clear. Parker headed over when well-placed to meet a Chambers cross on 38 minutes. Swallow's lovely curling ball into the box just eluded Doug Tuck and Campbell and went out for a goal-kick.

Ross Finnie went into the book for a late challenge that caught Tuck by the touchline. Another Swallow cross in from the right, after he cut in from the touchline, could have been put away by any one of three Bognor players in the box, but they all missed it. A Pearce corner in first-half stoppage time was almost met by Field but it was just too high for his run. It was the first of three successive corners but none got the breakthrough.

But Bognor went ahead just before the interval when Pearce and Campbell combined and the striker rifled a right-footed drive past a rooted-to-the-spot keeper from 20 yards. HT 1-0

Gloucester started the second half with intent but a spell of pressure blew itself out when Lincoln was fouled claiming a high ball. Chambers had sight of goal after a quick 1-2 outside the box but his shot was straight at Lincoln, who gathered it down low. Campbell was still involved in all the Rocks' best play and he set up Swallow for a low curling shot that was comfortable for the keeper.

Gloucester brought on Williams for Finnie on 57 minutes and it was to prove a crucial change. Swallow's perfect pass played Muitt in for a run at the defence which ended with a low drive at goal but Hadler had it covered. Bognor continued to do most of the attacking- Swallow the next to try his luck from 25 yards but he curled it well over.

The Rocks got the second goal their play deserved on 72 minutes when Pearce held the ball up by the corner flag down the Rocks right, Swallow picked up and crossed with his right foot to the far post, where Muitt met it on the volley to beat Hadlar. Gloucester's response was to make their final two changes - Zack Kotwica came on for Chambers and Tom Webb replaced Jamie Edge.

Within two minutes City were back in it when sub Williams saw his long-range free-kick deflected past a wrongfooted Lincoln. Tuck nearly made it 3-1 with 13 minutes left when he picked up a pass on the corner of the box and beat a defender with some close footwork before forcing Hadler into a sharp save at his near post.

Darren Mullings had a low shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Davies and when the Rocks broke quickly from the resultant corner, Swallow and Pearce set up Muitt, whose deflected shot was superbly kept out by Hadler. Whyte was booked for halting a Gloucester attack down their left before Jimmy Wild came on for Pearce.

With one minute of the 90 left, Williams tried to complete a long-range double after Lincoln punched clear a cross but this time his shot was too high. Gloucester kept going and a long ball to the edge of the Bognor box was flicked on to Williams, who cut inside and gave Lincoln no chance with a low shot just inside the post.

Rocks: Lincoln, Crane, Campbell, Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Muitt, Davies, Whyte, Pearce, Swallow. Subs: Wild, Heath, Suraci, Lea, Block.
Gloucester: Hadler, Thomas, Hall, Parselle, Cundy, Mullings, Edge, Finnie, Morford, Parker, Chambers. Subs: Williams, Webb, Kotwica, King, Harris.
Att 609