Higgs forced his way into Blake‘s plans to start the game in North London replacing Dan Smith in attack after the former’s late goal last week gave the Nye Camp aces the points in the 1-0 victory at home to Billericay Town. And the young striker, signed from the Southampton youth ranks in the summer, was on target once again to give the visitors yet another important win in the Isthmian premier division campaign.
Higgs struck on 77 minutes with a coolly slotted home goal from inside the box after good work from substitute Alfie Bridgeman, meaning Blake’s men have now chalked up six league wins on the spin. The victory against lowly Haringey leaves Bognor in seventh spot in the table and poised to burst into the play-off places in the table should they continue their fine run of form. The Rocks now go to Littlehampton Town on Tuesday in the Sussex Senior Cup, and then host Cheshunt at the MKM Arena next Saturday, February 10, kick-off 3pm.
While in previous performances Blake’s charges have turned on the style in periods to secure successes, this triumph owed a huge amount to hard work, togetherness and a large dollop of resilience. The home side, second from bottom, did themselves proud and never looked like an outfit who are struggling to make a break from the lower reaches. At times for Bognor it was a case of staying in the game, maintaining confidence and taking any chances when they came. This was the case when Higgs netted the winner, of course.
Going in to the game, Blake was forced to shuffle his pack after right-back Harvey Whyte failed a late fitness test and skipper Calvin Davies, recently out for two games through suspension, came back into the starting side.
Chances were few and far between for both teams, yet Bridgeman made an impact soon after coming on for Jasper Mather on 71 minutes. He saw a header hit the bar just before being instrumental in the move that set up Higgs for what turned out to be the winner. There was a price to pay for the victory, however, with the site of Craig Robson hobbling off in the 43rd minute one of concern for Blake. Yet his replacement, Kieran Douglas, did a fantastic job slotting in alongside Spencer Spurway in the heart of the visiting defence, and managed to help repel any attacks that the home side did launch.
Blake was understandably pleased at the win. He said: “For me, this win is more impressive than the win against Billericay because we had to find a way of getting the three points here without necessarily being at our best. I’m convinced last season we could easily have lost this game and maybe earlier on this season so it just shows you how we have grown and developed together and that for all of us is so pleasing. We battled hard and where we had to defend we did so ever so well and then you are looking at your forward players to make a difference and grab a goal and Tommy did just that.
“But it was very much a team that won this game not an individual and that is very encouraging. There were lots of players digging in, finding a way to help us to the win and the character we had to show against a side that are scrapping for their lives down there was great to see. To keep another clean sheet was very pleasing too. We won’t get carried away; yes, it’s fantastic to pick up another victory and extend our run but as often has been said, this league can surprise you and anyone can beat anyone so we must be on our guard going forward, but we do so with renewed confidence that’s for sure.”
Bognor Regis Town: 1 Ryan Hall, 2 Calvin Davies 3 Joe Rabbetts, 4 Matt Burgess,
5 Spencer Spurway, 6 Craig Robson (Kieran Douglas 43′), 7 Lucas Pattenden, 8 Ben Anderson, 9 Tommy-Lee Higgs, 10 Dan Gifford (Dan Smith 72′), 11 Jasper Mather (Alfie Bridgman 71′). Subs: 12 Dan Smith, 14 Isaac Olaniyan, 15 Harvey Whyte, 16 Alfie Bridgman, 17 Kieran Douglas.
Pic: Lyn & Trev