Despite an excellent battling performance, the Rocks were robbed of at least a draw by a dreadful decision by the referee – one which will also see Craig Stoner miss the home match against Leiston.
The match started in great style, with both teams attacking at every opportunity.
Andre McCollin looked dangerous leading the line for the home side and came close to scoring an early goal with a shot from the edge of the box which went just over the bar.
The Rocks responded well, and Terry Dodd should have hit the target when put clean through minutes later – only to hesitate and lose the opportunity.
The visitors were now firmly in control, and forced a succession of corners.
Matt Partridge’s goalbound shot was deflected just past the post and Stuart Axten was causing the home defence considerable difficulty in the box.
Rob Tolfrey in the home goal saved superbly from a James Crane shot, and Ashley-Robinson’s follow-up was blocked by an increasingly desperate Ks defence.
However, Kingstonian appeared dangerous themselves whenever they had the opportunity of breaking forward with McCollin and home skipper Aaron Goode looking particularly menacing as they combined well on the right.
It was these two who created a good opportunity for Lewis Taylor, whose attempt went wide when he should at least have troubled Stoner.
Lewis Stockford was having another commanding game in midfield, and shortly before the ref’s fateful intervention he produced a good attempt on goal from some 20 yards.
Minutes later came the decision which so angered the Rocks contingent – and it has to be said, mystified the home supporters and officials.
McCollin beat the last defenders and burst into the box. Stoner appeared to time his dive well and McCollin went down as if shot.
Whether Stoner touched the ball or the player was almost impossible to see (although the Rocks’ keeper was adamant he actually touched neither) but it was very clear that in no way could the incident be construed as “having denied a clear goal scoring opportunity” as required by the laws of the game in order to warrant a dismissal.
The incident happened deep into the box out on the right, with the attacker veering outwards rather than towards he goal. In other words, even if deemed to be a penalty, there appeared no way that a red card should have been applied.
Ashley-Paul Robinson was sacrificed to allow Tom Boyle to replace Stoner in goal and young Boyle’s first touch of the ball was to retrieve it from the net following McCollin’s well-struck penalty.
The second half largely belonged to the ten men of Bognor, who outfought their opponents in midfield and for long periods were camped in the Ks half.
Bognor forced twelve corners but the well organised home defence kept the visitors at bay, until Harvey Whyte, who had an excellent game, took the opportunity to run at them with some 20 minutes to go.
He jinked past three defenders in the box only to be hauled down on the six-yard line. A clear penalty!
With Robinson off the pitch it was James Crane who stepped forward. His shot was placed to the left-hand corner of the goal, but lacked power and Tolfrey, having guessed correctly, was able to tip it around the post. From the resultant corner Stuart Axten’s header just skimmed the bar.
Bognor continued to press forward, and sacrificed both full-backs in exchange for players who could add to the pressure going forward.
This gave Kingstonian the opportunity to break as the tiring Rocks left gaps at the back, although neither substitute Goma Lambu nor the ever-tricky McCollin could convert their opportunities.
Boyle saved well on a couple of occasions, concluding with a superb one handed save in injury time when McCollin seemed sure to score.
Despite this first away defeat of the season, the men in green and white should rightly be proud of their performance.
The Green Army, again out in force to swell the home side’s gate to their highest league attendance of the season, were unanimous in their view that this had been an excellent, gutsy performance which deserved a better outcome.
Report by Simon Cook
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