Bognor had only a James Fraser goal to show for their efforts as they lost 4-1 away to Tonbridge Angels to surrender top spot in the Ryman premier.
Tonbridge were goals up at half-time at Longmead, and it was always going to be difficult for Bognor to get back into it from there.
A Rocks fans’ coach broke down in Hildenborough just four miles from the ground but they made it for kick-off thanks in part to a helpful local football fan who drove some the remainder of the way.
Ex- Rock Anthony Di Bernardo was in goal for the Angels while Harvey Whyte got his first start of the season following his return from a knee injury. Jimmy Wild also started but Alex Parsons was on the bench.
Following a good early move for the hosts, Nick Wheeler found Nathan Elder and he headed narrowly over. Then Dan Lincoln saved an effort from long distance.
Tom Phipp struck a shot from outside the box which bounced once before Lincoln saved it on five minutes.
Whyte conceded a free-kick in a dangerous area. Wheeler went for goal but Darren Budd headed it away. Then Phipp’s long cross in search of Elder was well gathered by Lincoln.
Elder blasted over on the volley following a neat cross-field pass by Phipp but Angels were ahead on 13 minutes.
Wheeler took the Angels on the counter-attack and ran into the space and with a wonderful curled cross from the left, he picked out Elder, who powered a header beyond Lincoln.
In response, Lorenzo Dolcetti laid the ball off for Ollie Pearce to smash it early but it flew wide.
Phipp was closed down as he shot following a cross by James Folkes on 24 minutes.
Wild’s pass into the area was shut down in the area, then James Crane’s rebound saw the ball roll harmlessly out for a goal-kick.
Alex Afroki blasted in the second from close range for the visitors when a cross from the left found him on 33 minutes. All he had to do was control it before slotting it low beyond Lincoln.
Soon Luke Blewden’s right-sided cross found Elder, who headed it back in the area for Tom Parkinson, whose header was well saved by Lincoln.
The Angels went further ahead on 39 minutes. Wheeler’s cross from the right spun in for Mitchell Nelson who got in front of his marker to nod it low into the net.
Pearce’s cross was headed on by Sami El-Abd, who found Crane. His pass back into the box picked out Wild but his low attempt at goal was easily saved.
Early in the second half, Doug Tuck fed the ball to Crane, whose cross was headed out. Then Whyte’s cross from the right was well caught by Di Bernardo.
Afroki spun in a cross searching for Blewden but the Rocks defence cleared it.
Fraser’s cross had to be headed away at the back post by Jack Parter on 55 minutes as Bognor posed more of a threat. Pearce took a knock but returned.
Dolcetti’s forward pass found Pearce but his instant shot flew well over on 58 minutes.
Crane received a booking after fouling Wheeler. Wheeler’s free-kick found Nelson on 66 minutes and his header only just rolled wide. Afroki’s shot was saved by Lincoln moments later.
Parkinson was replaced by Luke Allen on 69 minutes for the visitors while Whyte was replaced by Fintan Walsh.
On 70 minutes Bognor got one back. Fraser flicked the ball up for himself, striking it from long distance to make it 3-1. See the goal in all its glory 15 minutes into the video highlights, embedded above.
Budd’s long-range free-kick was gathered by Di Bernardo minutes later.
Dolcetti was replaced by Will Robinson on 76 minutes.
Blewden’s right-sided corner found George Beavan, whose header was directed well but was well stopped by Lincoln.
Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson replaced Afroki on 79 minutes for hosts.
Another Wheeler cross found Elder on 80 minutes and his header bounced once before finding the bottom corner of the net.
Fraser played the ball back to Crane, who smashed it from just outside the box – but his attempt crashed off the crossbar on 82 minutes.
Ugo Udogi replaced the impressive Wheeler on 83 minutes for Angels.
Alex Parsons replaced Pearce on 89 minutes for Bognor.
Tuck was given a yellow card for a foul on Allen at the death. Phipp’s free-kick was headed away by Tuck.
Wild used his pace to get beyond his marker before running inside and shooting low. Di Bernardo did well to deflect it wide. Budd’s corner was cleared.
* The Rocks welcome second-from-bottom Harrow Borough at Nyewood Lane on Tuesday.
Angels: Di Bernardo, James Folkes, Jack Parter, Tom Parkinson (Allen 69), Mitchell Nelson, George Beavan, Alex Afroki (Fortnam-Tomlinson 79), Tom Phipp, Nathan Elder, Luke Blewden, Nick Wheeler (Udogi 83). Unused sub: Callum Adonis-Taylor
Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte (Walsh 69), Crane, Tuck, Sanders, El-Abd, Fraser, Dolcetti (Robinson 76), Wild, Pearce (Parsons 89), Budd. Unused sub: Field
Attendance - 447
Report by LIAM GOODLEY
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