FA Cup: Rocks miss out on first-round spot

Bognor's FA Cup dreams are over for another year after they slipped to a 1-0 loss at Oxford City in the final qualifying round.

Saturday, 14th October 2017, 6:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:30 pm
The Rocks were well supported at Oxford City / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Matt Paterson's fine volley on 32 minutes was enough to take Bognor's National League South rivals through to the first round, which will involved clubs from League One and League Two.

Paterson missed a penalty just before the break to give Jack Pearce's team hope of a fightback, but despite battling to the end, they could not find the goal that would have put them in the draw and set up a replay.

It's 22 years since Bognor reached the first round and this is a big blow to fans who travelled in great numbers and thought this could be the year to land a prize tie.

To make matters worse they had Calvin Davies sent off for two bookable offences.

Now they will have to raise themselves for the league campaign ahead, starting with a vital home game against Chippenham next Saturday.

At Marsh Lane a rubber-crumb artificial pitch awaited the Rocks and with Sami El-Abd and James Crane still out with injury and Kristian Campbell not allowed to play by parent club Bromley, Bognor gave a start to new striker Ibra Sekajja, once of Crystal Palace, up front. Alex Parsons and Doug Tuck returned to the bench.

Eddie Jones's long throw down the right flank was headed on by Rob Sinclair but Chad Field cleared the danger early on. Sekajja was in the action as a through ball by Ollie Pearce was closed down by a defender - the new signing looked eager to win the ball back but couldn't stop it from going out of play.

Jimmy Muitt won a corner which Pearce played short to Ben Swallow but no cross was forthcoming. Pearce teed up Sekajja, who was tackled winning a corner that came to nothing. Jones whipped one into the box with Paterson lurking, but Tommy Block got the ball away.

Lee Henderson went to ground in pain deep inside Oxford City's after battling with Sekajja on 14 minutes and required treatment. A clearance fell to Block 25 yards out but he scuffed his ambitious effort well wide. Block had to concede a corner after Davies was beaten, but Dan Beck was there to head it away.

Davies crossed towards Pearce but he was beaten to it by goalkeeper Jack Stevens and then Muitt spun a chance over the bar. Corey Heath slipped, allowing Erza Forde in, but Dan Lincoln did well to push his low attempt out. Godfrey Poku should have done better when a ball from Sinclair bounced to him. He stubbed his shot into the turf and it deflected off a defender before Lincoln caught it.

Harvey Whyte and Muitt set up Pearce for a shot from outside the box but it was well stopped by Stevens on 26 minutes. Reece Fleet spun another attempt wide on the volley from outside the area as Bognor were struggling to get out of their own half.

On 32 minutes Davies got caught out on the right. A fine ball across from Dave Pearce to Paterson saw the striker smack home an effort on the volley to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Swallow's corner floated across but Field couldn't quite get there - then Ollie Pearce on the edge of the box had a shot inadvertently blocked by his own team-mate. Pearce's forward ball picked out Muitt on the run but his shot went wide.

Ollie Pearce was tripped just outside the area. His free-kick deflected off the wall. Beck rolled a shot wide of the left post from 25 yards.

Davies conceded a penalty on 45 minutes when he shoved Paterson in the box. Davies was booked and Paterson stepped up but his kick shaved the outside of the post.

After the break, Forde's attempt was well stopped by Lincoln before Dave Pearce's cross from the left was headed wide by ex-Rock Joe Oastler on 49 minutes.With the Rocks travelling support in full voice, Heath cleared one off the line, then Lincoln pushed away a Paterson header before Cristian Navarro was booked on 53 minutes.

Swallow was replaced by Doug Tuck on 54 minutes. Beck and Davies played in Muitt, who fired wide of the near post on 56 minutes. Lincoln saved Bognor again when Paterson wound his way forward before shooting straight at the keeper.

Ollie Pearce was clearly impeded on the left and Sinclair was booked for the challenge on 60 minutes. Pearce's free-kick was punched away by Stevens. Davies was clearly tripped by Dave Pearce who received a yellow card. Ollie Pearce's chip into the box was easily gathered by Stevens.

Paterson let fly with a left-footed attempt but Lincoln was equal to it, pushing the ball away on 67 minutes. Paterson's ball across the box found Dave Pearce but he slid in and smacked it wide. Stevens went in the book for time wasting before a Bognor corner.

Forde was replaced by Zac McEachran on 73 minutes. Whyte's cross appeared to touch an arm but instead he was awarded a corner. Then Pearce's throw-in bounced out to Tuck who struck his shot well over the bar on 75 minutes. Davies was sent off for his second bookable offence when he was late in a challenge with Dave Pearce on 77 minutes.

Muitt slid in late on Poku and received a yellow card with nine minutes left. Muitt was replaced by Parsons as Bognor hoped for an equaliser. Beck's cross was well gathered by Stevens.

Beck's diagonal ball found Whyte and his incisive pass found Parsons, who smashed it low and wide, taking a deflection - but the referee gave a goal kick.

Sinclair's cross towards the back post was headed back inside by Paterson and Pearce's header was over the bar.

Jimmy Wild replaced Beck in stoppage time. Pearce's corner was headed towards goal by Heath but appeals that the ball had been handled were ignored ... and Bognor's FA Cup dreams were over for another season.

Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Beck (c) (Wild 90+1), Block, Field, Heath, Muitt (Parsons 83), Sekajja, Whyte, Pearce, Swallow (Tuck 54). Subs not Used: Lea, Suraci, Scutt.

* The Rocks will be away to Crawley in round two of the Sussex Senior Cup - date to be fixed.

Get all the reaction to the Cup defeat in the Observer - out on Thursday