Rocks 3 Bath City 2 - Coach delighted at positive start
Rocks coach Darin Killpartrick had praise for his team after they kicked off life in National League South with a 3-2 home win over Bath City.
Bognor went 2-0 up before the break but were pulled back to 2-2 after the break - only for Ollie Pearce to seal three points with a superlative free kick nine minutes from time.
It was just what the Rocks needed in front of a bumper 726 crowd at the start of what is expected to be a tough season,
Killpartrick, who is running the team with Jack Pearce and Gary Charman, said: "It was a bit like a game of basketball at times. However, we stopped passing in the second half the way we wanted which was disappointing.
"But one thing I did say to the lads was the fact that they died together out there defending the lead. They threw the kitchen sink at us and we dealt with it in a way that replicated the team cohesion that we have got."
He urged a note of caution, saying: "We can't forget that this is just one game. We've come away with three points. No-one would have moaned if it ended in a draw. These are the fine margins in this league. One or two mistakes and clubs can punish you. That's the difference in this league."
The early action saw Billy Murphy hit one over the bar in the first minute as Bath started on the front foot.
Jimmy Muitt's cross was plucked out of the sky by Luke Southwood on three minutes. Pearce cut the ball forward to Calvin Davies but he could only slide his effort along the floor and y into the goalkeeper's arms.
Andy Watkins struck one at goal but Sami El-Abd blocked him. Muitt made his way past his marker on 11 minutes before letting fly with a shot just inside the box. Southwood saved it then gathered the loose ball.
Doug Tuck slid in to clear a low cross from the left before Pearce put the ball through to Alex Parsons but his shot was deflected for a corner which was cleared. Corey Heath looked as though he was tugged to the floor by Marvin Morgan but the referee ignored his claims on 20 minutes.
It was 1-0 on 23 minutes. Dan Beck won the ball in Bognor's half and threaded the ball down the line to Pearce. He ran forward and found Ben Swallow who, from the left, cut the ball ball back on a plate for Parsons to give Bognor the lead on 23 minutes.
It got better for Bognor four minutes lster when a defensive header fell straight to Muitt, who shrugged his defender before belting it low into the bottom corner on 27 minutes. The home fans were loving it.
Murphy's lofted free-kick on 32 minutes fell to Watkins but his shot was rebounded for a corner, from which Morgan knocked a header just wide of the right post. Then Morgan's rocket on the turn saw the ball bounce off the frame of goal - before Dan Lincoln's punch landed kindly for Frankie Artus, who hit one low and wide.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans' shot took a deflection before bouncing wide of the post. Artus smashed another well wide of the right post on 40 minutes. El-Abd received a yellow card on 44 minutes for a late sliding challenge on Nat Jarvis.
A Calvin Davies cross saw Muitt beat Anthony Straker to the ball in the box and his shot was pushed away by Southwood. Later, Pearce's right-sided corner floated over an unmarked Parsons.
Ryan Case smashed a shot high and wide for Bath after steaming forward from defence. Parsons did well to run and cross into the box and Straker's scuffed clearance spun up in the air but the goalkeeper gathered it.
The visitors pulled a goal back on 60 minutes. Nat Jarvis found space and powered a shot low into the net from a Morgan through-pass. The Romans brought on Jamie Lucas on 63 minutes. Heath headed a long ball out for a corner and Çase smashed an effort well over the crossbar from outside the box on 66 minutes.
A powerful defensive header out by Harvey Whyte saw Swallow run on and beat the goalkeeper with his low shot but it hit the side netting.
Bath got an equaliser on 71 minutes. Watkins found himself in space after a run and blasted the ball high into the net to draw the visitors level. Jarvis was booked for diving on 74 minutes.
Parsons was replaced by Jimmy Wild on 74 minutes while George Rigg and Nabi Diallo came on for City. Artus received a booking for kicking the ball away on 76 minutes.
A foul saw the referee give a free-kick in a decent position for Bognor with nine minutes left. Pearce stepped up from 25 yards and he smashed it high into the top corner to the delight of the Bognor faithful.
Gary Charman came on for Tuck on 84 minutes. Watkins's corner fell to Jarvis but he headed it narrowly wide of the far post in stoppage time. Jarvis smashed another one over the top with his left boot seconds later.
Bath had the ball in the net deep into stoppage time after Lincoln had parried the ball high into the air - but he was fouled while trying to gather it. Diallo received a booking from the incident and Bognor's win bonuses were safe.
Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte, Davies, Tuck (Charman 84), El-Abd, Heath, Muitt, Beck (c), Parsons (Wild 74), Pearce, Swallow. Subs Not Used: Field, Lea, Block.
Next up for the Rocks is a trip to Poole on Tuesday night, then they go to Welling on Saturday. Get first reports from both games on this website.