Ibra keeps Bognor in hunt for FA Trophy glory

The Rocks celebrate Ibra Sekajja's equaliser at Hemel / Picture by Tommy McMillan
The Rocks celebrate Ibra Sekajja's equaliser at Hemel / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor earned a home FA Trophy replay against Hemel Hempstead after holding National League South rivals Hemel Hempstead to a draw in Hertfordshire.

Ibra Sekajja netted the equaliser in the second half to bring the tie back to Nyewood Lane on Tuesday night. Bognor had chances to win right at the end in an exciting fixture.

New signing Keaton Wood, captain of the England C team, got a start at a cold Vauxhall Road. Bognor were also boosted by the return of Doug Tuck from illness. Ollie Pearce started on the bench for the second time in three matches - a lack of match fitness the reason.

Kristian Campbell’s early hard work ended with a cross from the left but it was too much for Sekajja in pursuit. But Bognor went behind after only seven minutes. The Rocks were under some pressure with some slick passing play by the hosts and it was Antonio German who received the ball from the right before unleashing a low strike with power beyond Dan Lincoln.

Campbell cut inside from the left, but couldn’t break down the defence. Spencer McCall committed Lincoln into a save at his near post before Jimmy Muitt won a free kick deep inside Hemel’s half. Ben Swallow’s cross was looking for Chad Field at the back post but was just out of the defender’s reach.

On 17 minutes Swallow’s corner found the rising Wood and his header was only just cleared off the goal-line. Scott Shulton let fly with a 25-yard strike which smacked off the crossbar. The ball bounced to Will Hoskins who headed over Lincoln but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Calvin Davies got the ball down the right flank to Muitt who did well before getting a cross in. Laurie Walker gathered it high in the air. Following a corner, Wood received a booking after lashing out at Joe Howe near the touchline - obviously frustrated to miss his header in the box and eager to win the ball back. Sekajja beat his man with ease before crossing the ball. However, nobody was in the box to capitalise.

German’s cross picked out Parkes for a diving header that flew wide on 31 minutes. German smacked another effort high and wide from long distance. Shulton was shown a yellow card for his challenge on Davies on 38 minutes. Two quick-fire chances went begging for the hosts. First Parkes’ corner was nodded over by James Kaloczi, then Parkes drove another chance over the bar from long distance.

Muitt won a corner inside first-half stoppage time but Swallow’s corner ended in an apparent foul on the goalkeeper. HT 1-0

The first half-chance of the second period saw Driver’s cross fly over the tall Kaloczi on the back post for the Tudors. A halt in play ensued as German required treatment from the physio after a clash of heads.

Sami El-Abd got the ball forward, allowing Davies to cross. Sekajja won it, using his pace to beat his marker but after doing all the hard work, his cross was too much for Davies in return.

A great chance for Bognor came on 60 minutes. Muitt started the attack as he passed to Tuck, and the midfielder’s neat ball through the defence found Sekajja. The striker ran on and a chipped effort saw Walker get a glove to it. A Swallow corner almost let Sekajja through after a deflection but he missed it with the goalkeeper stranded.

But Bognor did equalise on 65 minutes. Following Swallow’s dipping corner there was a scramble in the box and it fell to Sekajja who rolled it in from point-blank range in the melee.

Field was nearest to bravely deflect Driver’s chance soon after at the other end. Then Wood found Campbell, whose cross was too strong for Swallow. On 69 minutes, another quick run from Campbell on the left saw him win a fre- kick after a late challenge was punished. Muitt’s kick reached the back post to Wood but he diverted it wide.

Swallow was tripped on the run, for which Kyle Connolly went into the book. Campbell stepped up to take the free kick in a good position. He went for goal, but Walker did well to save it. It was Bognor enjoying most of the chances. Davies was unmarked as he headed over Swallow’s cross, and Sekajja headed over another Swallow delivery soon after following good work from Muitt.

It was all Bognor in the dying moments. Another incisive pass from Tuck sliced the defence in half. Swallow had made the run but fired over with his shot. Muitt’s chipped cross picked out Tuck in the heart of the area but his header was low and well saved by Walker, who was having a busy second half.

The last chance fell to Muitt. After cutting inside and beating his marker, he was allowed space to get a shot away from the edge of the box but he hit the side netting.

The replay at Nyewood Lane kicks off at 7.45pm and the Rocks will go into it heartened by improved recent form and now a run of three games unbeaten.

Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Campbell, Tuck, El-Abd (c), Field, Muitt, Block, Sekajja, Wood, Swallow. Subs not used: Whyte, Pearce, Beck, Lea, Scott