Bognor gave Horsham a lesson in how to play Ryman League football as they comfortably dismantled Dom Di Paola’s side 3-0 at Gorings Mead in their final pre-season friendly.
Horsham have stuttered against more illustrious opponents during the pre-season campaign, losing to Conference South sides Whitehawk and Eastbourne Borough so far, so the prospect of facing Jamie Howell’s Ryman Premier side, who only lost out on the title by one point last season, was considered to be a better barometer of how well The Hornets might fare in their return to the Ryman League following promotion from the Southern Combination.
Essentially from that moment on, the game as a contest was over with the Rocks playing the ball about nicely and proving to be quicker and stronger than their hosts.
The gulf in class between the two sides would soon become apparent as Bognor continued where they left from last season and produced a strong and energetic display to which the Hornets could not find an answer.
Bognor’s preparations were initially dealt a setback as keeper Billy Granger had to pull out of the game several hours before the match and Horsham’s James Shaw stepped in to play for the away side between the sticks while former Bognor man Anthony Ender was introduced for the home side in goal.
Gary Charman was lining up for the Rocks and making his first return to Horsham since departing as player manager in January 2015, while ex-Hornet Darren Budd also added to the familiarity.
It would prove to be a comfortable evening for Gazza, helping marshal Bognor’s rearguard, as his side started the game on the front foot testing the waters first by Ollie Pearce firing wide on seven minutes, and followed up by Dylan Barnett’s volley high and wide after James Crane’s cross found him in the box.
The Hornets, however, failed to heed those early warning signs and, on 12 minutes, Bognor took the lead when Pierce slotted across the face of goal, low into the corner after being played through onside courtesy of a fine through ball from Crane who had made a surging run on the wing.
Just three minutes later, Bognor doubled their lead and there was almost an air of inevitability that it should come from a certain man.
When Pearce’s cross was delivered into the box, the familiar sight of a leaping Charman rising highest to meet the ball and power home from close range was a timely reminder to Horsham fans of his aerial prowess during his illustrious tenure at the club and he showed great dignity to those supporters by refusing to celebrate his goal.
Essentially from that moment on, the game as a contest was over with the Rocks playing the ball about nicely and proving to be quicker and stronger than their hosts, with Doug Tuck in particular orchestrating things for the visitors while Horsham appeared to be getting slightly frustrated.
Crane shot high over the bar just after the half-hour mark after he ran on to a short pass from Pearce, while Jimmy Wild was guilty of a glaring miss just before half-time when he somehow managed to poke wide of the post with just the ‘keeper to beat after Tuck had somehow managed to squirm the ball through to him following some desperate Horsham defending.
H/T: Horsham 0 Bognor 2
It took Bognor just four minutes after the restart to increase their lead when Pearce added his second of the match when he converted a sweeping low ball that was delivered from out wide that caused Horsham’s defence all sorts of problems.
Lee Carney was then sent on to replace the tired looking Joe Shelley, while Scott Harris was also withdrawn and Charlie Pitcher sent on to try to aid Jake Chadwick up front but the moves made little difference as Bognor stroked the ball around the pitch at will and continued to pose a threat with Ender having to produce a fine diving save midway through the half to keep a semblance of respectability to the scoreline.
The Hornets, however, did rally late on when Shaw came to his loaned-to side’s rescue to pull off a couple of smart saves but it was to be one of the very limited chances Horsham would see all evening as Bognor saw out the game with a polished performance.
That’s it friendly-wise for Bognor now ahead of their Ryman premier kick-off at home to Lowestoft on August 13.
Report by Matt Dale
Courtesy of Horsham FC
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!