VIDEO and REPORT: Rocks repeat show at Taunton has them dreaming of Trophy glory
Bognor came from behind at the Viridor Stadium to beat Taunton Town in the first round of the FA Trophy, repeating the the 4-1 scoreline they enjoyed there in 2015 on their way to the semi-finals.
Ben Swallow netted his first two goals for the Rocks while Ibra Sekajja and Doug Tuck were also on target as the visitors' late flourish swept their ten-man Somerset hosts aside.
It puts the Rocks into Monday's draw for the second round for only the third time in their history - a stage which saw them beat Altrincham at Nyewood Lane two seasons ago.
The Rocks were without defender Keaton Wood, who sustained a broken nose in the 0-0 draw at Bath. He was replaced by Sami El-Abd, back after a one-match ban. Ollie Pearce is still about two weeks away from returning to fitness and Corey Heath awaits a scan.
The hosts started well in front of a noisy Taunton support and inside the first minute Matt Wright received the ball from the left before shooting, but it was easily saved by Dan Lincoln. Ross Staley’s long throw saw the ball headed out to Pierce Mitchell. He fired goalwards on the turn, forcing Lincoln into another save.
Bognor struggled to find an opening and when Shane White’s corner was cleared by Tuck and then Calvin Davies, his forward ball proved too much for Sekajja on the break.
Lincoln gathered White’s cross then Muitt picked out Swallow with a chipped pass and he forced Lloyd Irish into a save. Davies had to head out White’s ball into the box while Ryan Brett’s cross fell out to Staley but he put his left-footed chance wide of the post on ten minutes. Mitchell poked a ball forward too close to Lincoln when he had intended to find team-mate Matt Bush.
Kristian Campbell won a free-kick and Muitt's attempt only just dipped wide on 16 minutes. Davies was enjoying space on the right but on 17 minutes when he got the ball across the box, neither Harvey Whyte nor Sekajja could capitalise. Whyte and Davies combined to find Muitt on the right but his cross flew straight to Irish.
Sekajja won a corner on 25 minutes but Muitt’s cross was headed away. Then Muitt tried his luck from 25 yards but the keeper was well positioned to save it. Davies lost the ball to Staley whose cross was dealt with by Chad Field. Campbell spotted Davies’ run down the left. Davies cut inside before shooting and forced Irish into a decent save on 33 minutes.
Wright’s edge-of-the-box effort was pushed away by a diving Lincoln. Brett was booked for the hosts, then Swallow’s ball into the box was headed wide by Field.
The Peacocks belied their league status two divisions below the Rocks by taking the lead on 38 minutes. El-Abd gave the ball away in defence, allowing Wright to slip the ball through to Les Afful, who stayed on his feet before slotting beyond Lincoln.
At the end of the half, Swallow headed the ball into Taunton’s territory. It fell to Tuck but his chipped pass over the defence was ruled offside as Sekajja mis-timed his run.
Brett’s in-swinging early corner for the hosts was only just knocked clear from a crowded Rocks penalty area. Then a cross from the same player was claimed by Lincoln. Soon Mitchell’s low strike was saved by the goalkeeper, who dived to his left to push it away.
On 51 minutes Afful set up Omar Simpson, who diverted it well over the bar with his first touch.
Sekajja snatched the ball from Irish's attempted clearance. One on one with the goalkeeper, though, Sekajja’s low attempt was denied by the stopper's outstretched left leg on 52 minutes. But the travelling fans, many sporting green and white Christmas hats, didn’t have to wait much longer to celebrate as Bognor equalised on 57 minutes. Muitt led a counter-attack down the right and his pinpoint cross picked out Swallow, who got in front of his defender to divert a header beyond Irish and into the net.
Bognor should have taken the lead two minutes later. Whyte’s cross fell to Swallow, who was wide with a deflected effort. Swallow’s corner fell for El-Abd whose low header was stopped by Irish. At the other end Simpson’s low cross was only just diverted wide by Buse.
Dan Beck replaced the tiring Campbell on 63 minutes for Bognor and a minute later Ollie Chamberlain came on for Chris McGrath. On 67 minutes, Swallow found Davies with a pass and he struck a shot with power. Muitt got something to it before Irish saved the attempt.
El-Abd went into the book when the referee deemed he had tripped Buse. Ben Adelsbury’s free-kick hit the side netting. Tommy Block was quietly settling things down at the back and did well to win the ball back on 71 minutes. He found Swallow who crossed for Muitt at the back post. His header was blocked by a defender. Field smashed a chance high and wide on 75 minutes.
Ben Palmer replaced Simpson for the hosts on 77 minutes. Then Lincoln bravely rushed out of his goal to deny Staley to latch onto a neat through ball.
Bognor took the lead on 82 minutes. Beck’s ball forward to Sekajja saw the striker run on before blasting the ball low into the bottom left corner - and he celebrated in style with his signature somersault to the delight of the travelling fans.
On 85 minutes Chamberlain brought Sekajja down with a tug around the neck on the counter-attack. As the last man, the substitute was shown a straight red card, leaving the Peacocks with ten men. Swallow struck the free kick wide.
Swallow netted his second of the afternoon on 87 minutes. Sekajja’s right-sided cross bounced to him in the heart of the area and he diverted it cleverly below Irish.
Taunton had not given up hope and Lincoln had to push away another dipping chance from Adelsbury’s free-kick moments later. Swallow ran on to put another chance high and wide. Then Muitt blastiedthe ball into orbit with Bognor all over Taunton.
Bognor added a fourth a minute into stoppage time as a diving Irish failed to stop Tuck’s fine 20-yard drive, which flashed under a defender’s foot and into the net.
It’s back to league action for the Rocks next Saturday when they take on fellow National League South strugglers Poole Town at Nyewood Lane.
Taunton: Irish, Mitchell, Staley, White, McGrath (Chamberlain 64), Adelsbury, Buse, Brett, Wright, Simpson (Palmer 77), Afful. Subs not used: Stone, Trowbridge, Meaker
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Campbell (Beck 63), Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Muitt (Lea 90+1), Block, Sekajja, Whyte, Swallow. Sub not used: Scutt.
Att - 508
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