VIDEO REACTION and REPORT: Rocks still alive! Hope lives on after Nye Camp night of drama

The Rocks live to fight another day after turning in one of their best performances of the season to beat promotion-chasing St Albans 2-1 at Nyewood Lane - in a game that ended in extraordinary drama.

Wednesday, 11th April 2018, 10:21 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 12:47 am
Ibra Sekajja converts the opening goal against St Albans / Picture by Tommy McMillan

There were dramatic scenes at the end of the game - and after the end - as St Albans pulled a goal back in stoppage time and were then awarded a penalty which would have made it 2-2.

The spot kick was given when Sami El-Abd retaliated against sub Harvey Bradbury, who had apparently grabbed hold of the Rocks captain after keeper Dan Lincoln had collected a high ball.

El-Abd was sent off, and when he had departed, David Noble stepped up to take the penalty but Lincoln guessed right and saved it superbly - gathering the ball and securing the win after it hit the underside of the bar and bounced down almost on the goal line.

Ibra Sekajja converts the opening goal against St Albans / Picture by Tommy McMillan

That was the end of the game but all hell broke loose after the final whsitle as players and officials from both teams clashed in the home technical area in front of the main stand.

It was a job to see what started it - and who did what - but stewards had to intervene, although they took several minutes to calm things down. The St Albans mangement team had been vocal all night in their dugout and a number of fans had complained about their antics.

The end-of-game melee could see both clubs punished, depending on what referee Paul Harris puts in his report.

It was a remarkable end to a remarkable night - one in which the Rocks had turned in a display that left fans wondering why they could not have played at a similar level more often this season. It takes the relegation battle at least to Saturday, when Bognor will need to beat Hemel Hempstead at Nyewood Lane to keep their slim hopes alive, and hope that other rivals lose.

Tommy Scutt scored on a rare Rocks start / Picture by Tommy McMillan

See coach Darin Killpartrick's post-match thoughts in the video interview, above

At the start of the night, it was do-or-die for the Rocks as they took on St Albans knowing defeat would confirm their relegation after a single season in National League South. Young midfielder Tommy Scutt was given a rare starting spot, while Justin Amaluzor and Ibra Sekajja were paired up front.

St Albans had a strong line-up as they looked to strengthen their bid for a play-off spot, and were able to leave the likes of Sam Merson - son of Paul - and Bradbury - son of Havant boss Lee - on the bench.

It was a bright-enough opening ten minutes with the Rocks having marginally the better of things. And they got their reward for their positive opening when Sekajja sidefooted home a Ben Swallow cross on eight minutes at the end of a lovely sweeping Rocks move down the left.

The Rocks continued to attack. Swallow kept in another ball down the left flank but his pulled-back cross was straight to a defender - then Sekajja raced clear but was stopped in his tracks by an offside ruling.Then it was Amaluzor's turn for an attempt at goal after cutting inside from the left. Keeper Dean Snedker parried it to safety. Scutt and Amaluzor then combined to force the visitors into a hurried clearance for a corner.

St Albans must have been surprised at the strength of the Rocks in attack - in fact so were the home fans, who had not seen too many performances like this all season. The visitors were, for the first quarter of the game at least, confined to long-range efforts that didn't cause Dan Lincoln too much alarm.

Bognor were on top and they made their superiority count with a second goal on 28 minutes. Calvin Davies made it with a superb bit of close control down the left that took him into the area - and he timed his pass to Scutt superbly so that the youngster couldn't miss from a few yards out. There was no let-up from Jack Pearce's team after their second and they carried on dictating the pace of the game into the final 15 minutes of the first half.

When St Albans did work an opening it fell to Rhys Murrell-Williamson 12 yards out but he fired it well over the bar to the dismay of the visitors' bench.Sekajja had a fabulous chance to make it 3-0 when a ball over the top fell perfectly for him but he overhit it just at the key moment and the keeper gathered.

Within a minute Swallow set Doug Tuck free down the left and his ball into the box was met by Sekajja but Snedker was out to block him - then the action switched straight to the other end and Lincoln had to be sharp to deny Antonio German. Tuck was involved in all the Rocks' best play and tried to play Sekajja in again but a defender got there first.

The first yellow card of the night went to St Albans' Kieran Monlouis for a late tackle on Richard Gilot. A Swallow corner from the left in first-half injury time found Harvey Whyte's head but he directed it over the bar. HT 2-0

There was an early second-half scare at the back for the Rocks but they survived it and broke quickly and Scutt and Sekajja teamed up for the latter to send in a cross that required some depserate defending. St Albans were doing their damnedest to get back into the game but German's left-footed drive from 25 yards was well over Lincoln's bar. Minutes later German appeared to be through on goal but Lincoln was quickly out to block his way.

Amaluzor went down with a head injury, which St Albans defender Jamie Sendles-White thought was good reason to start having a go - drawing an angry response from Sekajja. Wood had picked up a head injury in an accidental clash with an opponent and, although he had tried to play on, he had to come off just after the hour mark and be replaced by Gary Charman.

St Albans brought off Murrell-Williamson, with Bradbury replacing him. The Hertfordshire side were starting to pile on the pressure and Zane Bunton dribbled past two defenders but had his shot blocked - before Monlouis fired the rebound wide. Davies was booked for body-checking his man on the St Albans right on 69 minutes. A couple of minutes later Monlouis sent a header against Lincoln's crossbar.

Amaluzor played a nice through-pass to Sekajja but he was offside, but play was cleverly brought back for an earlier foul on the on-loan Barnet man.The Rocks made their first change on 80 minutes as Sekajja made way for Jimmy Muitt. Shaun Lucien replaced Banton as St Albans tried one more change to force their way towards a late fightback.

Bognor switched their Tommys on 83 minutes - Block replacing Scutt, who had done ever so well on his big night. St Albans sub Walker was booked for a nasty challenge on El-Abd. A minute from the end of the 90 Walker's curling shot might have been goalbound was deflected just wide for a corner that came to nothing. St Albans defender Tom Bender was booked for dissent as his side waited to defend a free-kick from the Bognor right.

In injury time Bradbury sneaked in between two defendes to head in a cross from the left side of the box - leaving the Rocks two of six added minutes to hold on.

Then the real drama began. With only a minute of the stoppage time to come Lincoln collected a high ball but there was afters between El-Abd and Bradbury - and when the ref consulted his assistant, a penalty was awarded and El-Abd saw red. The Rocks camp felt Bradbury was the initially-guilty party.

No-one in white and green could believe it - it looked like the Rocks had somehow seen three points turn into one - atlhough a draw would not have relegated them on the spot, it would have left them right on the brink. But Lincoln had the final say, getting down to his right to keep out the penalty, with the aid of the woodwork. St Albans had no time to go again and the points were in the bag.

All that was left were the unseemly scenes that followed the whistle - and we may not have heard the last of it.

Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte, Davies, Tuck, El-Abd, Wood, Scutt, Gilot, Amaluzor, Sekajja, Swallow. Subs - Charman, Block, Pearce, Muitt, Boughton. St Albans: Snedker, Herd, Bender, Noble, Sendles-White, Gardner, Murrell-Williamson, Samboil, German, Monlouis, Banton. Subs- Walker, Lucien, Bradbury, Merson, Kiangelen.Ref: Paul Harris (Maidstone)