Adebayo treble fires Rocks to five-goal win
Elijah Adebayo's second-half hat-trick earned in-form Bognor a 5-0 win at Canvey Island - and took them four points clear at the top of the Ryman premier.
Jamie Howell’s men were already in control, 2-0 up at the interval, before the tall teenager on loan from Fulham found his scoring touch.
James Fraser set the tone with a third-minute opener before Jimmy Muitt’s fine finish gave the Rocks daylight before the break in a game that had been in doubt because of frost that had deemed a mid-morning pitch inspection necessary.
Adebayo scored in the 54th, 71st and 83rd minutes to wrap up an impressive win which, with the morning’s second-placed side Havant going down 3-1 to third-placed Needham Market and swapping places with them as a result, put Bognor four points clear.
Leiston still look like their biggest threat - their 3-1 win at Worthing left them six points the Rocks with three games in hand.
Bognor have a free midweek before hosting Grays next Saturday.
Struggling Canvey Island play at the Frost Financial Stadium - rather apt, as the pitch passed a 10.30am inspection after heavy frost overnight saw four areas of the pitch frozen.
Bognor were unchanged from their Needham Market win with Ollie Pearce remaining on the bench. With Ed Sanders and Lorenzo Dolcetti out on loan to Chichester, Jimmy Wild was the only absentee through injury.
Early on George Sykes crossed but Omar Lawson failed to capitalise in the box.
Bognor took the lead on only thre minutes. Alex Parsons struck a shot at goal for the Rocks which was pushed out by goalkeeper Conor Gough but Fraser was there to knock the rebound in off Gough.
Calum Ibe got on the end of an Ashley Dumas left-sided cross before striking the post. The Bognor defence eventually cleared.
Adebayo won a corner on the right but the danger was cleared. Frankie Merryfield teed up Ibe but his sliding attempt was easily saved by Dan Lincoln.
Lincoln’s long throw set up Calvin Davies and his ball forward to Muitt was closed down and knocked out for a corner, from which a Fraser header fell to Sami El-Abd, but his header was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Fraser had a shot saved and Davies forced the goalkeeper into a save. Then Adebayo’s follow-up header hit the side-netting but he was offside anyway.
Dumas’s free-kick picked out Sykes but he headed wide. Then a Bognor back pass was a little short and was closed down by Merryfield, who blocked a Lincoln clearance. The ball only just spun over the bar.
Muitt’s shot was deflected and spun kindly for Gough, who saved it easily.
Luke David-Wrightman was causing some problems on the right for Canvey while at the other end, Gough had to punch clear a cross as Bognor resorted to some long ball.
Merryfield smashed an attempt high and wide on 34 minutes.
David-Wrightman’s long ball into the box bounced dangerously inside the crowded area and Lincoln had to come off his line to gather.
Just before half-time Bognor scored again. A cross by Harvey Whyte from the right picked out Muitt, who struck it on the turn and converted it beyond Gough.
A mistake by John Mbamarah saw Muitt with a chance. But his low shot towards the bottom corner was well stopped.
Ibe did well to work his way into the box but his low pass across the area was kicked away with Lincoln stranded.
James Crane cut inside from the left following good play by Adebayo and Davies but the left-back’s shot flew well over.
Davies’ ball forward found Parsons but his run ended in a low shot along the deck which was stopped by the keeper’s foot.
On 51 minutes Davies was replaced by Gary Charman for Bognor.
Bognor made it 3-0 on 54 minutes. A great diagonal ball by Chad Field saw Adebayo beat the offside trap. After controlling the ball inside the area his low attempt took a hefty deflection under a defender’s leg before flying low into the net.
Doug Tuck was replaced by Darren Budd on 59 minutes.
Jamal Howlett-Mundle blasted wide for Canvey when he really should have done better following a cross. Another Parsons attempt rolled wide of the post.
Ibe shot over the bar before being replaced by Jay Curran on 68 minutes.
A blocked clearance by Budd saw Curran have a go for the hosts. The ball fell to the substitute but he stubbed it wide.
Straight from the corner a Charman clearance bounced out to Parsons and his pace got Bognor on the counter attack. He found Adebayo in space and he ran on before neatly slotting it beyond the goalkeeper on 71 minutes.
Dan Beck replaced Muitt on 72 minutes.
Neat trickery by Fraser saw him flick the ball over Howlett-Mundle, who tripped the midfielder and received a booking. The free-kick was easily saved by Gough.
Adebayo completed his treble on 83 minutes. Fraser played a neat ball to Parsons on the right and his low cross was only partially cleared - but Adebayo snatched it before turning and shooting instantly into the bottom corner.
Sykes forced Lincoln into a save, pushing the ball out for a corner, which fell to sub Harrison Chatting. The substitute hit it from outside the box and forced Lincoln into a fingertip save to steer it over the goal.
Another save by Lincoln from a Chatting strike was the last real chance of the game.
Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte, Crane (c), Tuck (Budd 59), El-Abd, Field, Fraser, Davies (Charman 51), Adebayo, Muitt (Beck 72), Parsons. Sub not used: Pearce. Att - 407.
Bognor host Grays on Saturday.
* The SCFL programme was badly hit by frosty pitches on Saturday, with games involving Chichester City, Pagham, Bosham and Sidlesham called off. Selsey and Midhurst did not have games planned.
In the West Sussex League premier, Nyetimber Pirates beat Predators 2-0 thanks to goals by Karl Westbrook and Derek Chester.
Rugby was also hit - Chichester travelled to Sutton and Epsom but that was called off minutes before the scheduled kick-off time.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among 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.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!