Men's First Team
Isthmian League Premier Division Tue 26 December MKM Arena
Bognor Regis Town

Pattenden ran on to a long ball from Harvey Whyte, turned his man in the box and shot low past Lewis Carey just after the hour in an end-to-end affair that ought really to have produced more goals.

Deep into five added-on minutes, Gifford was sent racing clear in a counter attack after the Rocks successfully repelled the Hornets’ attempts to salvage a point – and calmly slotted the ball past Carey to make the points safe

It continues Bognor’s unbeaten home league record for the season while the result was a setback for Dom Di Paola’s side and their bid to build on their FA Cup and Trophy success with a push for the play-offs.

The festive derby brought Horsham to Nyewood Lane in a good position in the Isthmian premier division table – starting the aftetnoon in seventh spot and with games in hand over rivals.

For the Rocks it’s been an up-and-down first half of the campaign and they began the day 15th but also with games in hand over most other sides – chiefly because they have lost several home games to wet weather in recent weeks.

The Rocks kicked off attacking the Seasons end – unusually – and it was a fairly cagey opening spell, with Pattenden looking to put the Hornets under early pressure down the hosts’ right. Soon Whyte swung in a fourth minute cross thst Tommy-Lee Higgs headed just over at the near post.

Another right-wing cross, this one from Pattenden, almost found Alfie Bridgman at the far post but Horsham cleared. The Hornets had half a chance when two Rocks defenders dithered over a loose ball 30 yards out but Lee Harding’s cross, looking for Jack Mazzone, was claimed by Ryan Hall, who was to have an excellent afternoon.

Horsham began to find their fluency and won the game’s first corner on 22 minutes. It was cleared as far as James Hammond, whose normal long-range accuracy was missing as his effort flew well over the bar. Bridgman’s fierce cross-shot on 25 minutes just needed a touch in by Pattenden but Harvey Sparks got a vital touch to conceded a corner that was dealt with.

It was end-to-end and very open and after one Joe Rabbetts cross evaded everyone at one end, another by Reece Meekums at the other end did the same.

Pattenden got in again down the right and sent in a fierce cross that Carey palmed away to safety. Then Horsham’s break came to nothing when Mazzone fired widly over.

A brilliant break down the right – started by Whyte’s persistence and carried on by Pattenden’s pace – ended with the wideman’s cross which was almost oa a plate for Bridgman, but Bobby Price saved the day for the Hornets.

Harding had clear sight of goal on 38 minutes but Hall got down well to save – and Rocks boss Robbie Blake was furious his side had not been given a free-kick in the build-up to the chance. From the corner Jsck Strange headed over when Sparks’ deliery found him free at the back post. HT 0-0

Ben Anderson replaced Matt Burgess – struck down with illness – after the break and the second half began in a similar vein with both sides showing plenty of attacking intent.

Hall was forced into a flying save seven minutes into the second half when Mazzone found space 20 yards out for a curling shot. Then the Rocks broke and Bridgman’s low drive was blocked by a defender’s foot. Davies was booked on 56 minutes for a foul that halted a Horsham attack 25 yards from goal. Hammond sent the free-kick only just high and wide.

Bridgman wanted a penalty on 59 minutes when he went to ground on a run into the box but the referee was unmoved. Then Robson was booked for a foul in the centre circle. Soon it was a trio of yellows – and all to senior Rocks players – as Whyte was booked.

Bognor took the lead in fine style on 63 minutes with a great finish by Pattenden. Whyte sent him scurrying down the inside right channel and he turned in the box to make space before firing low past Carey – and he celebrated with a double back-flip.

Higgs was replaced by Jasper Mather – back after recovering from a back injury on 67 minutes – while at the same time Horsham brought on Dan Akajaiye and Tom Richards for Danny Barker and Meekums.

The double change seemed to inject new life into Horsham and Mazzone’s shot was deflected only just over the Bognor bar. Charlie Hester-Cook headed the corner down and it looked like it was going in but Hall saved and an offside flag went up.

Hotsham were unhappy not to get a free-kick for a Robson challenge before, with 15 minutes left,Gifford replaced Bridgman in the Rocks’ third change.

Pattenden was so close to doubling his and the Rocks’ tally on 82 minutes when he ran on to another long pass down the right and beat the onrushing Carey to the ball, but he poked it a few feet wide.

Horsham put together a neat passing move that ended with Ajakaiye through on goal but from a tight angle his shot was saved by Hall’s outstretched leg. A dangerous ball across the Rocks box eventually fell to Daniel at the far post but his attempt was brilliantly blocked by sub Anderson to preserve the lead.

Horsham kept pressing as five minutes of added time began and an offside flag brought cheers from the home side after Brivio got forward for a half-chance that was saved anyway by Hall.

In injury time the Rocks made sure of it when Spencer Spurway cleared another Horsham attack and sent sub Gifford racing clear with only the keeper to beat – which he did with a calm finish to send the home fans into raptures and home happy.

Horsham are down to eighth, Bognor up to 12th, after this result and both play again on Saturday – when the Hornets visit Dulwich and the Rocks host Canvey Island.

Rocks: Hall, Whyte, Rabbetts, Davies, Spurway, Robson, Pattenden, Burgess, Smith, Higgs, Bridgman. Subs: Gifford, Howick, Mather, Anderson, Olaniyan.

Horsham: Carey, Price, Sparks, Hester-Cook, Strange, Brivio, Hammond, Barker, Mazzone, Meekums, Harding. Subs: Tuck, Ajakaiye, Richards, Daniel, Romain.

Ref: Joe Lamping