At last! Rocks rediscover winning form at St Albans - report, pic special, video highlights
Bognor deservedly secured their first league win since August 15 as a real team effort saw them overcome St Albans at Clarence Park.
A fine header from Kristian Campbell and a neat flick from the impressive Ibra Sekajja from a Dan Beck shot were enough to secure the three points.
Campbell, on loan from Bromley for another month, went straight into the line-up but Ollie Pearce and Jimmy Muitt started on the bench for the men in green and white.
Bognor started brightly and Calvin Davies’ dipping cross was only just headed away seconds in. The Rocks had the ball in the net on two minutes. Ben Swallow’s chipped ball forward was headed on by Beck to Sekajja’s feet and he slotted it low into the bottom corner. But the linesman’s flag was up for offside.
For Saints, Rhys Murrell-Williamson found space just outside the box to shoot and commit Dan Lincoln into a save before Zane Banton had a shot blocked just inside the box. Murrell-Williamson struck wide of the left post seconds later. Connor Tighe then got caught offside when running on to a Davies forward pass.
Murrell-Williamson went down in the box on eight minutes but the Bognor defender appeared to get the ball. Swallow’s forward ball was too much for Tighe. The Rocks were unlucky soon after when Sekajja fed Swallow and his curling strike only just flew wide.
Bognor deservedly took the lead on 12 minutes. Beck won a corner on the right and Swallow’s kick curled wonderfully on to the head of Campbell, who nodded it in confidently at the near post - and celebrated in style.
The Saints were on the offensive for most of the first half, with Banton on the left wing a real threat. He smacked a chance wide of the post, winning a corner. David Noble’s kick was well gathered by Lincoln. On 20 minutes, Sekajja’s chance was deflected for a corner, before a counter-attacking move instigated by Banton saw the player find Layne Eadie, whose cross was snuffed out by Lincoln.
Sam Merson’s shot was somehow bundled away from the Bognor penalty area. Swallow picked out Campbell with a neat long pass but Dean Snedkar was equal to the full-back’s cross. On 27 minutes, a cross bounced kindly for Merson but, leaning backwards, he could only fire wide.
It was like a game of pinball at times in the Rocks area as the shots were blocked and the defenders put their bodies in the way. Even Tighe was back to defend.
An equaliser was on the cards and the Saints got it on 33 minutes. Solomon Sambou outwitted the Bognor defence with an incisive pass to Banton, who crossed low for Merson to poke home at the back post. Later Merson blasted a chance on the volley straight from the corner well wide. Soon after, Pinney smashed another effort wide.
Banton was causing all sorts of problems for Bognor on the left and another shot rebounded off the brave Chad Field. Sekajja was fouled on 42 minutes about 25 yards out. Campbell stepped up to take the free-kick and forced the goalkeeper into a fingertip save, pushing the ball over the bar.
But Bognor took the lead again on 43 minutes. Tighe’s corner was missed in the air by Field but it fell to Beck, who belted the ball low and hard - and following a deflection, Sekajja got the final flick to steer it cleverly past Sneaker. Noble cut inside before firing wide of the near post moments later.
Murrell-Williamson went close on 48 minutes but was agonisingly wide with a curling effort. Bognor countered and Sekajja was only just denied. Bognor were enjoying some good possession and Campbell made good headway before shooting narrowly wide.
On the hour, a last ditch tackle by Davies saw Bognor win the ball back and Tommy Block’s through ball found Sekajja on the run. He beat his marker with ease, before running on and with only the goalkeeper to beat, slid his low effort just past the right post.
Bognor were a unit in defence and Sami El-Abd kept out Murrell-Williamson to concede a corner. Campbell completed the clearance.
On 65 minutes Saints replaced the impressive Banton with Shaun Lucien and on 67 minutes Beck was replaced by Harvey Whyte for Bognor. With 20 minutes left, Campbell took a free-kick wide on the right. He went for goal but it proved to be an easy save for Sneaker.
Kieran Monlouis replaced Noble for the hosts on 73 minutes. Lucien should have done better on 78 minutes when he slid a shot wide from the edge of the box. Final substitutions saw Pinney off for Charlie Walker for St Albans and Tighe off for Muitt for the Rocks. St Albans were trying their best to get an equaliser. Sambou smashed a shot well wide with Murrell-Williamson and Merson involved in the build-up.
On 84 minutes Sekajja was deemed to have been tripped by Percy Kiangebeni who went in the book. Davies stepped up to take the direct free-kick but his curled effort flew over the bar. In the dying moments Walker could only strike his chance wide when it seemed easier to get it on target. Just as Bognor got the ball out of defence with Sekajja in pursuit, he was clearly fouled by the last man near the centre circle by Tom Bender who was lucky to only receive a yellow card.
But after five minutes of additional time, the final whistle sounded to the relief of the travelling Rocks supporters and players. This had been an impressive display against a decent, attack-minded side - and what a relief to get that long-overdue win.
Bognor welcome fellow strugglers Oxford City this Tuesday (7.45pm) in the hope of another three points - all support needed.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Campbell, Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Sekajja, Block, Tighe (Muitt 80), Beck (Whyte 67), Swallow. Subs not used: Pearce, Lea, Scutt
Attendance - 583