Rocks’ have rotten Ryman night at Hampton

Doug Tuck and Dan Beck couldn't save the Rocks at Hampton / Picture by Derek Beech
Doug Tuck and Dan Beck couldn't save the Rocks at Hampton / Picture by Derek Beech

The Rocks were left counting the cost of a night to forget in south-west London after losing 2-1 to promotion rivals Hampton and Richmond and seeing two players injured and one sent off.

Defender Sami El-Abd and midfielder Gary Charman were both forced off injured while skipper and top scorer Jason Prior saw red for a second booking in stoppage time.

A below-par first-half showing from Jamie Howell’s team left them with too much to do in the second period, although they battled well in the bid to save a point and Craig Robson’s header from a corner gave them hope.

There were early warning signs for Bognor in the second minute when Jerome Federico raced away down the Hampton left and beat four men before setting up Jamal Lowe, who slid the chance wide. Federico then set up Dean Sinclair, whose shot missed by a whisker.

Chike Kandi and Robson combined to create an opening for Kandi but keeper Mark Smith thwarted him, and that proved a brief respite for the visitors.

Federico ran through but blazed over after El-Abd slipped in the mud.

Hampton opened the scoring on 20 minutes as Sinclair set up Lowe to slot in from ten yards. It seemed a question at this stage of how many Hampton would score.

El-Abd was hurt in a tackle and hobbled off to be replaced by Charman.

Five minutes before the break the Beavers doubled their lead through Lowe, who outpaced three Rocks players with a run down the left then beat Grant Smith after appearing to have taken the ball too wide.

The Rocks would have been glad to get to the interval without conceding any more than two, but their night got worse a couple of minutes after the restart when Charman had to be helped off after going down hurt and needing lengthy treatment on the pitch. Alfie Rutherford was the substitute’s substitute.

Grant Smith made two excellent saves from Lowe and another from Sinclair - but from nowhere, Bognor started to take the game to their hosts.

They started putting Hampton under pressure and the home side suddenly looked content to defend.

Kieran Murphy was booked for a handball just outside the area that denied Prior a chance - it was arguable whether it should have been red. The free-kick was defended.

Mark Smith tipped Kandi’s shot away after Ollie Pearce and Prior linked up to set him up, and when Kandi’s mazy run ended with a Rutherford shot being blocked for a corner, Pearce’s delivery was met by the head of Robson and it was 2-1 with 21 minutes left.

Bognor won a series of corners and Smith made a point-blank save from a goalbound Prior header, then followed it with an excellent stop from Rutherford’s effort.

On 88 minutes a 15-yard effort by Prior missed by inches.

In the dying moments Prior, already booked, was sent off after an incident in which Hampton defender Moussa Diarra looked the main aggressor. Prior is likely to pick up a one-match ban for the January 2 clash with Burgess Hill.

Three players from each side were booked, with Harvey Whyte and James Crane the other Rocks shown yellow.

The Rocks came home pointless, then, and hoping the injury news would not prove too serious. They go down to eighth in the table - although only five points behind leaders Dulwich and with the same gap to Hampton, who go second.

Bognor are on the road again on Saturday, heading to face fifth-placed Billericay, while they still don’t know who’ll they host in the second round of the FA Trophy after Altrincham and Leamington drew their first-round tie 1-1. They’ll replay at Leamington next week.

Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane (Parsons), Tuck, El-Abd (Charman 20 (Rutherford 48) ), Robson, Pearce, Beck, Prior, Kandi, Field. Sub unused: Green.

SIMON COOK & STEVE BONE

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