BOGNOR REGIS TOWN – 0
SUTTON UNITED – 1 [Arkali 64.]
When the fixtures were initially announced, there was no small disappointment amongst the crew when it was discovered that this seasons trip to Bognor would be a Tuesday night. But that disappointment was tempered slightly with the trip to Dorchester and the weekend in Weymouth 4 days before!
Again, the crew attendance for this one is good, with only Greek absent. He’s saving his money and also keeping his missus sweet after the previous weekend away on the piss! I catch the Bognor train at Clapham and find Bob & Chalmers already on board. Windy & Oscar are heading down by car.
An hour or so later, we’re off at Bognor and find the Windymobile in the car park awaiting our arrival. A quick dash later and we’re getting all nostalgic over a pint in our old haunt ‘Cheers’ by the pier.
Soon we’re off to Nyewood Lane and a quick pre-match swifty, before heading out to hang flags and get making some noise for the lads. As is becoming the norm, JR has once again shuffled the side.
This time Tony Quinton has picked up a knock and his spot at the back goes to off Vansittart. Stuart Booth comes into midfield to replace Paul Honey who picked up a gash on his foot Saturday.
As with Dorchester, the U’s are out of the blocks very quickly and taking the game to their hosts. On 6 minutes a ball into the box causes the Rocks defence problems. Andy Martin makes it his and lays it to the edge of the box for Matt Gray whose shot is across goal and just touched out for a corner.
The resulting kick is flicked on at the near post and again finds Martin at the back post. With no space to play with, he prods the ball 1st time at goal and it takes a desperate block on the line from the ‘keeper to keep the scores level.
Bognor get going and have a couple of forays forward that produce little before Joff goes close for Sutton after around a quarter of an hour. A Gray corner from the right picks out our stand in defender at the near post, but his well directed header brings another good stop out of the Bognor custodian who pushes it round the post for another corner. Bognor then lose a defender after a clash of heads with Watkins, but the young forward is able to continue after receiving attention and a natty head bandage.
The hosts create their first real chance a minute later with a foray down the left. A low ball back across the box from the byeline is touched on goal at the near post, but bounces across the box and Wilson sees it wide of the far post. The match then settles slightly, with the flow somewhat interrupted by another change to the hosts line up. Thier sub having to limp off after a challenge by Fear out on the left touchline.
While the game is quiet, we hit the food bar. Now, last season, Bognor’s burgers were runaway winners in our end of season awards. And I really can’t see there being anything to beat them this year either! I have a plain old double burger with cheese & bacon. It’s pure heaven. Right down to the grease running down my chin.
Compared to Windy and Oscar though, I’m positively anorexic as they have the ‘Premier’, which comes topped off with a fried egg! It’s amusing to start with, but when Windy lives up to his name and starts producing some vile eggy burps, we sort of lose our sense of humour.
There’s a moment of danger when a big punt forwards is chased down in the U’s box. Corbett chases back with Gonsalves and seems to get a touch on the ball. But it rebounds off Lewis and just as it seems a chance will present itself, Gonsalves just manages to shepherd the ball back to Wilson.
It’s a rare moment from the home side, which is surprising considering they scored 6 on saturday!
The U’s continue to work hard and create some openings. Matt Gray bombs down the right, weaving past 2 defenders and crossing low. But the ball is deflected up and just over the head over Watkins arriving at the back post.
With the half approaching it’s end, Watkins recieves the ball 25 yards or so out and turns before unleashing a dipping drive that the ‘keeper takes without too much worry. The home fans start to amble their way round from the far end towards the bar and at the other end, Joff is clattered as he clears a loose ball. The usual funeral march type tune starts up from the far end, with the bar-bound locals joining in as they walk behind us.
“Die!” one bloke shouts.
“Well, he’s in the right fucking place mate, everyone else seems to come here to do that!” is my response.
They continue to the bar without another word and the mocking laughter of the U’s support ringing in their ears.
Sutton keep going to the whistle and create a couple of late openings. Another good run down the right from Gray produces a super cross in, but Martin is closely marked and the defender does enough to put him off, Taff’s header going in the opposite direction to goal! Then on the whistle a good run from deep by Akuamouah and a pass out to the left finds the overlapping Gonsalves. He produces a good cross at pace, but a defender manages to cut it out before it can reach the forwards.
We start the second half brightly too and a couple of minutes in, Corbett is having a shot blocked in the box after we’d worked an overlap on the left following a throw from Fear on the right to Akuamouah. The game again decends into a close fought battle for a while with neither side really looking in control. Just after the hour, Bognor test Wilson seriously for the first time when an attack down the middle is partially repelled, ending with a strong drive at goal that is straight at the U’s ‘keeper.
A minute later and the breakthrough we’ve been hoping for comes. A deep free-kick from the right by Gray is aimed at the back post. A header is won and the ball drops loose in the box. A Rocks defender gets a foot on it and clears to around 20 yards out. Evren Arkali (or ‘Dave’ as he’s now been christened by the travelling support, mostly because we didn’t know his name in Dorch) is waiting to meet it and his low drive through the crowd clips a leg and spins just out of reach of the ‘keeper and into the net. Yeeeeeessss!
Foolish jumping about ensues, along with an impromptu chorus of “Dave Dave Dave Dave Dave!”.
Naturally, Evren looks ever so confused…… “Who iz zis Dave?”
That’ll take some explaining!
Naturally, the goal finally awakens the home side and they’re soon on the offensive trying to pull that goal back. And within a couple of minutes of going behind, we’re relying on Phil Wilson to retain the lead. A ball down our left is flung across the box and picks out a white shirt a few yards out. But his shot is brilliantly blocked by the U’s stopper.
Immediately after another good chance presents itself. Another attack down the left results in a ball across to the near post. Wilson comes, but Corbett doesn’t hear the call and touches it away from goal. It falls to an attacker 10 yards out, but he blazes the chance well over.
Akuamouah responds with a now rare foray forwards, galloping down the left before crossing, but again a defender intervenes and cuts out the danger.
With the match approaching the last 10 minutes, things are livened up by a couple of events. ‘Dave’ is poleaxed just inside the Bognor half and the ball runs back to their ‘keeper. Already miffed at not getting a free-kick, we’re further annoyed when the ‘keeper completely ignores the prostrate Arkali and immediately launches a huge kick upfield. The ball bounces and carries over our defence, sending the Rocks lethal striker, Nightingale, clear through on goal. Joff reacts and just before he can get into the box, the big man commits the ultimate sacrifice and bundles the striker to the ground.
It’s a complete banker of a red card and Joff takes it without argument. It’s costly, but it’s ultimately saved a goal and there’s no penalty kick to face, so we’ll take it! Wilson though still has to be alert and beats out the blistering free-kick that slices through the Sutton defensive wall.
Naturally, we set about roundly abusing the hosts ‘keeper for his rather unsporting act that lead to the red card and for a good few minutes, he cops a shedload of stick. To start with, he’s very cocky and mouthing back, but after falling over the ball after receiving a back pass and then inadvertently running the ball out of play for a Sutton throw, both followed by a mocking chorus of the Circus march from behind the goal, he suddenly loses his bravado.
Bouyed by the extra man, the Rocks push hard. JR makes a final change, bringing on Olusesi to play on his own up front whilst everyone else drops back and mans the barricades.
Inside the last 5 minutes, we endure 2 close shaves. One cross in from the left finds a white shirt with a free-header, but thankfully he squanders the opportunity and directs his header well wide. Then with 2 minutes to play, we back off and allow an attacker to come onto us. But he elects to try his luck from range and powers a drive not far wide of Wilsons upright.
The highlight of the final moments for us is Kunle, all 2 foot or so of him, out jumping a 6 foot defender for a header!
But, despite having our backs to the wall, the lads cling on and we claim all 3 points. The boys celebrate and trot over to recieve the congratulations of the fans. Evren getting another no doubt confusing bout of ‘Dave’ chanting and Kunle joining in with the ‘United’ chants.
Flags down, we leg it to the car and start the journey home. Right Mr Miller, 1 hour and 15 minutes until last orders son. Get your foot down.
An hour and 10 minutes later and the crew are supping a celebratory pint in the Hood.
Now that’s timing.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Phil Wilson. Once again produced 3-4 great stops
ENTERTAINMENT – 8. Another very good game of football on a top surface.
TEAM : Wilson, Gray, Corbett, Vansittart, Gonsalves, Booth, Fear, Arkali, Akuamouah, Watkins, Martin SUBS : Boosey, Ajoge, Olusesi, Brake
THE REFEREE’S………Bruce McClaren. Nuff said. Tosser we’ve encountered many times before and rarely got shag all out of him. Can’t complain about the red card though, even he couldn’t get that wrong!