Early goal puts writing on wall for Rocks at Braintree
The Rocks' struggles continue as a goal conceded after 21 seconds set the tone for an afternoon that ended in a 3-0 defeat at Braintree.
The defeat left Bognor in the National League South's bottom three for the first time this season and increases the pressure on the management to halt the slide. The early goal and two more well-taken finishes in the second half from second-placed Braintree saw the Essex side to a comfortable win.
There was no sign of striker Ferdinand Takyi in the squad as the Rocks arrived to try to reverse their recent slump.
Braintree took the lead after only 21 seconds when Darnell Wynter struck home from the edge of the box with a fine strike but Bognor came back into the game later as the first half wore on - not that one group of their fans saw any of that after a coach breakdown meant they arrived five minutes before half-time.
Phil Roberts hit the side netting as he darted in from the left after a quick attack from the hosts. For the Rocks, a forward ball into the area was searching for Harvey Whyte but Nathan McDonald gathered it. Dan Lincoln picked out a cross before Ollie Pearce sped away on the counter-attack and his cross was knocked clear for a corner. Pearce's corner floated kindly for Chad Field but he glanced his header wide.
Ben Swallow got into the attack and Doug Tuck's forward ball was knocked on by Ibra Sekajja, who found Swallow - but his cross was somehow belted away. Calvin Davies chipped the ball forward to Pearce, who did well to get to the byline and force the goalkeeper into a parried save over the bar. The corner by Pearce was nodded well over by Field.
Ben Wyatt won a throw in on the left and Samir Bihmoutine's cross found Roberts but he headed it straight at Lincoln. Then Billy Crook smacked an attempt straight over the bar from outside the box as Braintree enjoyed early second-half pressure.
Davies lofted the ball down the right for Pearce and he won a free-kick. Swallow's kick was curled in and Sekajja was in there but the ball bounced out to Pearce who hit a shot that was deflected away. Bihmoutine's neat cross picked out Karl Oliyide, who slid in, and Lincoln's dive couldn't stop the ball going in off the post to give the hosts a two-goal lead.
After the goal Lincoln required treatment having taken a knock to the head as he tried to stop it from going in. Archie Edwards' cross after a quick run down the left was headed away. Edwards was booked for a high boot into the chest of his opponent as Bognor were having to defend some swift passing from the hosts. Mark Okoye was on the back post but headed the ball wide from the free-kick.
Davies' ball down the right saw Sekajja run to catch up with the ball before hitting it low into the box but Nathan McDonald gathered it after being well positioned. Wyatt was also on the floor holding his head and the referee halted play but he soon returned to his feet and was back in the action. Wyatt spotted a gap in between Whyte and Davies before gifting Bihmoutine a chance but his shot which forced Lincoln into a save was called offside.
Jimmy Muitt replaced Edwards in the 63rd minute. Swallow forced McDonald into a save with his dipping cross. The goalkeeper had to push the ball over the bar at his near post. Pearce's corner was overhit. Substitute Tyler Campbell had a shot blocked before Tommy Block was booked for a challenge.
Pearce came off for Connor Tighe for Bognor and Oliyide was replaced by Marcel Barrington for the hosts. Barrington was soon in the thick of the action as he pounced on a forward pass before cutting inside and shooting well wide of the post.
Field slipped over, allowing Barrington in, and with only Lincoln to beat, the goalkeeper was able to divert his low effort away and then stop the follow up. Lincoln stopped a dipping chance before Sekajja was closed down as Rocks were trying to walk the ball into the net instead of taking a chance at goal.
Muitt sped down the right but his cross was hit behind Tighe, who slipped up. Then Swallow looked like he was brought down by Odoye but the referee ignored the claims. Roberts was replaced by Matt Baxter and Bognor were struggling to create chances.
Baxter hit one soon after coming on of which Lincoln stopped, before Sekajja's quick turn and shot was saved by McDonald down the other end. Sekajja gave the goalkeeper a comfortable save to make before seven minutes was announced as added-on time. A chipped ball over the top saw Barrington in again but Lincoln cut out the ball and deflected it away for a corner.
Barrington sped through following a through ball and blasted an unstoppable shot straight into the net deep into stoppage time to secure a 3-0 win.
Bognor now look to get their campaign back on track next Saturday at home to Hampton & Richmond Borough (3pm). In the meantime, doubtless the search for that elusive striker will continue.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Edwards (Muitt 63), Tuck, Field, Heath, Sekajja, Block, Whyte, Pearce (Tighe), Swallow. Subs not used: Beck, Lea, El-Abd