Crane hat-trick helps Bognor romp to 6-1 win at Margate

Ashton Leigh scores / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ashton Leigh scores / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Brilliant Bognor made it SEVEN wins in a row - and a sixth straight away win - with a 6-1 triumph at Margate, led by a James Crane hat-trick, reports Liam Goodley.

They went 2-0 up early on through Dan Smith and James Crane before Margate pulled one back through Adem Ramadan a couple of minutes into the second half.

Ashton Leigh celebrates / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Ashton Leigh celebrates / Picture by Tommy McMillan

But Bognor took charge after that and goals by Ashton Leigh, Crane with two more to complete a treble and Doug Tuck earned them their biggest away win of the campaign.

In the space of 25 days Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake have led their side to wins at Folkestone, Kingstonian, Uxbridge, Bowers and Pitsea, Storrington and now Margate - as well as at home to East Thurrock.

It's an amazing turnaround after a poor start to the season that left them in the bottom three and with Pearce and Blake under fire from fans.

They aim to continue their recent run when they host Merstham on Saturday. They are up to eighth position in the Isthmian premier.

James Crane celebrates one of his three goals / Picture by Tommy McMillan

James Crane celebrates one of his three goals / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor were without Bradley Lethbridge through illness and Harvey Whyte with work commitments. Tommy Scutt was still missing through injury.

Early on Crane picked out Smith but he was pushed. Tommy Leigh's free-kick was swung in but Crane's volley was blocked. Hafeez Sanussi was blocked with his low effort in Margate's response.

Ramadan made a mistake and let Crane in to cross it for Smith but he was denied by an onrushing Owen Kallmeier. Kallmeier had to receive treatment and there was a lengthy stoppage.
Elliott Reeves teed up Jack Richards, who crossed, but Amadou Tangara stopped it. Ramadan's fierce low cross was blocked by Joe Cook. Josh Flint had a cross cleared for the Rocks.

Flint did well to play the ball in for Smith before he beat his marker and slotted it low into the bottom corner on eight minutes. Ashton Leigh and Tommy Leigh combined with a short corner back heel combination. Tommy Leigh slid the ball along the deck for Crane to divert it low into the net on 12 minutes for 2-0.

O'Shane Stewart made headway in Bognor's half before smashing it from outside the area and off the crossbar on 22 minutes with Tangara getting fingertips to it. Smith hit one from outside the box but it was well saved by Kallmeier.

Cook and Flint set up Arron Hopkinso,n who played it inside towards Doug Tuck, who won a corner hitting it off a defender. Flint followed up a neat Crane knock on and was twisting and turning but when he finally wanted to shoot he was quickly blocked.

Smith stole the ball in the middle of the park before setting up Hopkinson with an inviting pass but Kallmeier got there first. Ramadan did well to reach the byline before crossing it but Tangara got to it. HT 0-2

Tuck's strike was easily saved by the goalkeeper in the early stages of the second half. But Margate pulled one back on 46 minutes. A swift cross from Richards bounced through to an unmarked Ramadan, who controlled it before prodding the ball under the diving Tangara and in.

Tommy Leigh went into the book for a foul on 48 minutes. Richards curled the direct free-kick high over the bar. Reeves tripped Dandy inside Bognor's half and went into the book on 50 minutes. Reeves did well to beat his man before whipping a shot across the face of goal on 51 minutes.

Bognor went 3-1 up on 54 minutes. Great play by Hopkinson on the left saw him feed it to Ashton Leigh who cut across the defence and beyond the goalkeeper before patiently and finally shooting high into the unguarded net.

Crane had the ball in the net on 56 minutes as he combined with Hopkinson before blasting itin, beating Kallmeier.

Bognor were flying and hunting for more goals but Hopkinson's cross ballooned up over the net. Sanussi was replaced by Noel Leighton in a rather surprising substitution for the hosts on 68 minutes. Leighton received a right-sided cross before shooting but Tangara was out of his goal to deny him on 72 minutes.

Hopkinson flicked on a cross to Flint before he belted it wide on 76 minutes. Keaton Wood worked the ball across square to Flint before he controlled it well to lay it off for Tuck who sliced it wide of the right post from outside the box.

Hopkinson was replaced by Michael Baker on 81 minutes. On 83 minutes Bognor netted their fifth when Baker's nice touch down put Tuck in on goal and his first shot was parried out by Kallmeier before he followed it up by slotting it in.

Dandy was replaced by Eddie Wakley as Rocks were in firm control. Tommy Leigh flicked the ball on to Baker who committed Kallmeier into a save before Smith forced the goalkeeper into a fingertip diversion. Smith then hit the side netting with a strike straight from a deeply hit corner.

Ramadan went into the book for a foul on 90 minutes and to end a perfect night Crane scored again on 92 minutes. A wonderful flick-on by Baker set Crane on the way and from an acute angle he smashed it across the goalkeeper and into the net to complete his hat-trick.

Rocks: Tangara, Dandy (Wakley 86), Crane, Tuck, Cook, Wood, Flint, T Leigh, Smith, Hopkinson (Baker 81), A Leigh.