Men's First Team
Isthmian League Premier Division Tue 26 March MKM Arena
Bognor Regis Town
Wingate & Finchley

&Bognor came from two goals down to storm back to a 2-2 draw thanks to a brace of goals from Dan Gifford in the second half.

Harvey Whyte, Calvin Davies and Kieran Douglas all watched from the stands as they were a number of those that are out with injury.  Volunteers did superbly to get the pitch playable before kick off as the rain was relentless all afternoon and evening.

Early on, Ryan Hall had to boot the ball out at the edge of his area as the rain continued to pour.

A ball through by Tommy-Lee Higgs on 2 minutes was searching for Lucas Pattenden and he won a corner after Ahmet Biler intercepted him.  The corner by Matt Burgess was played onto the near post but it was headed away after a battle in the air by Higgs.

Joe Briffa did well to pick out Jasper Mather on 5 minutes.  His run through the middle ended with the forward bursting into the area but his low strike was just wide of the left post.

Elliot Long put the ball square beyond the Bognor defence in the box but it was Anointed Chukwu who had a go but it was a super save from Hall that denied him on 10 minutes.

Long went to ground under a challenge by Burgess on 14 minutes.  The referee pointed straight to the spot.  Up stepped Chukwu who dispatched a low strike into the net, with Hall diving the wrong way.

Benjamin Goode was called into action on 19 minutes.  Higgs was set through and smacked one across the goalkeeper but Goode pushed it out.  It fell to Dan Gifford who didn’t expect the rebound and it bounced inadvertantly off his chest and out of play.

Matt Burgess turned sweetly into good space before passing through to Higgs, who turned instantly to smash one at goal.  Again, Goode was diving to his left to push it out again on 20 minutes.

Isaac Newton ran through with the ball as it was loose in Bognor’s half.  He sped through and tried to play it square but Craig Robson got a crucial block in and the ball was caught by Hall.

Mather got the shot away and it was bravely blocked by Biler who had to be treated by the physio for his bravery just after on 32 minutes.

Bognor were messy at the back.  Burgess failed to win the ball off Long who wound his way into the area before shooting low, but Hall was there to block him.

Gifford tried to bundle in a chance as Bognor had another go again but it was cleared off the line.  Then Mather tried to round the goalkeeper but Goode was solid enough to deny him.

The ball went down the other end though and following a swift square pass into the box it was Mathew Achuba who fired it into the net after it took 2 deflections off the Bognor defence and bounced in on 38 minutes.

Mather was denied again as he fired low but a defender frustratingly blocked it to divert it wide of the goal in response.

Then Higgs ran through after good work fom Gifford.  His turn was cut off as he was fouled by Benedict Frempah and he rightly went into the book.  Higgs passed it short to Mather who won a corner with a deflected effort.

HT 0-2

Oliver Downs, who impressed on his debut, did well to pass through for Mather who was just offside as he burst through the defence in the 47th minute.

Gifford slipped a pass through to Mather who cut inside with a run but hit the side netting with his low strike on 49 minutes.

Then Downs again played the ball neatly through to Mather who was blocked off as Bognor were after their first goal.

But Bognor deservedly got their goal back as a corner was played right onto the head of Robson who headed it unmarked in the box at goal.  Gifford was there to make sure on the line and diverted it in on 52 minutes.

Then on 62 minutes Mather was running through on the left flank and it was a late sliding challenge by Rhamar Garrett–Douglas which saw him receive a yellow card.  Mather hooked the high ball in from the freekick and it was headed down at goal by Higgs.  This forced a good save from Goode to deny the equaliser.

Robson went into the book despite winning the challenge with a block on the halfway line on 71 minutes with a sliding move.

However, Bognor got their equaliser on 74 minutes.  A neat ball down the left flank for Alfie Bridgman by Mather saw the winger cross it along the deck for Gifford to slot low into the net.

Bognor should have taken the lead on 79 minutes.  Downs set up Mather who ran across his defender before letting fly with a left footed effort and smashing it off the right post and out.

Goode was down to his right to deny Bridgman as Mather got a chopped pass to him from Robson’s stirling work at the back, reading the game so well.  A nice run inside from the winger, who upped the tempo of Bognor’s game since coming on, creating yet another chance for his side.

Hall was brilliant in another save to stop Long with a destined goal.  He denied him by deflecting the ball away with his body.

Then substitute Ruben Carvalho did well on the break in a great chance for the visitors to try and steal a cruel win for them.  But his fierce effort hit the side netting.

Five minutes of extra time elapsed as Rocks finished with a point as they matched their end of season 2022/23 total with 52 points and hope to add to that tally with seven games remaining.  They welcome another high flying team, Enfield Town, to the MKM Arena next on Saturday 30th March with kick off at 3pm.

FT 2-2

Rocks: Hall, Yang, Downs, Briffa (Bridgman 69), Rabbetts, Robson, Pattenden, Burgess (c), Higgs (Holland 87), Gifford, Mather