The Rocks began their pre-season friendlies with a hard-fought win at Chichester City, who were certainly not overawed by visitors who play two levels higher.
Although the second half became disjointed thanks to multiple substitutions by both sides, Bognor certainly deserved their win, and will be pleased with certain elements of their game.
It was encouraging to see former Rocks James Fraser and Darren Budd, who came on for the second period, back in Bognor shirts for the visitors and both showed they have not lost any of their tenacity or vision.
Bognor began the first half with the majority of possession and came close on numerous occasions.
Jimmy Wild, formerly with Chichester City, was given the opportunity to show what he can do and he came close to opening the scoring early on when Ollie Pearce created an opportunity for him. Wild’s firm shot from an acute angle was just wide.
The same player tried again on the half -hour mark following an excellent interpassing movement but his shot was deflected just wide of the goal.
Chichester had chances of their own, with ex-Bognor player Dan Simmonds proving a handful for Sami El-Abd, and only a superbly-timed tackle inside the box by Doug Tuck prevented an opening goal. Simmonds burst through on his own a few minutes later but blazed over the bar when he really should have hit the target.
Shortly before the break Pearce came within a whisker of scoring, and then moments later Chichester broke away and a shot smashed against the bar, with the Rocks’ defence all at sea.
Numerous changes were made by both sides at half time and it was encouraging to see Chad Field taking the field. Last season’s loanee from Portsmouth played for Bristol Rovers at the weekend, but has not yet sealed a deal, so might we yet see this fan’s favourite back at the Lane?
Bognor eventually took the lead after 60 minutes. Wild laid the ball back to Pearce, who advanced into the box and drove the ball low and hard past the keeper.
Ten minutes later it was 2-0. Triallist Samuel Sanchez Compan scored seconds after coming on, and with his first touch of the ball. The home keeper could only parry a shot from the right, and young Compan was on hand to sweep the ball home. The same player could have scored again minutes later. His impressive run into the box was followed by a shot that was only inches wide.
The Rocks completed the scoring two minutes from time. Another triallist, Kent Merritt, laid the ball off to Budd, who advanced and scored from 18 yards.
Although in many ways this was a typical pre-season match, Bognor will be pleased with the start that they have made against a Chichester side who fought until the end.
City, too, gave boss Miles Rutherford plenty to mull over and be positive about ahead of what he hopes will be a challenge for a top-four place in the Southern Combination premier.
For Bognor, Gosport Borough of National League South will be tougher opponents on Saturday when Alex Parsons should be available to add to the squad.
Rocks’ starting team: Granger, Crane, Charman, El-Abd, Wollers, Beck, Fraser, Tuck, Whyte, Wild, Pearce.
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