GALLERY: Rocks slip up again on flat afternoon at Nyewood Lane

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BOGNOR slipped to a disappointing home defeat - their third of the season - in an uninspiring encounter against East Thurrock.

Lewis Smith’s goal in the first half was the difference between the sides and Bognor rarely looked like salvaging even a point from the game.

Harvey Whyte couldn't inspire the Rocks against East Thurrock   Picture by Chris Hatton

Harvey Whyte couldn't inspire the Rocks against East Thurrock Picture by Chris Hatton

It leaves Jamie Howell’s team back in the bottom four and wondering where the inspiration will come from to get their season moving.

Injury-hit Bognor were without skipper Paul Hinshelwood, keeper Chris Winterton and midfielder Charlie Oatway.

That meant starts for Harry Medway, keeper Grant Smith, back for a second spell at Nyewood Lane between the sticks, and Arron Hopkinson.

Defender Josh Warren - another who has played for the Rocks before - was on the bench after rejoining the club following his release by Pompey.

The first half-chance fell to the Rocks in the fourth minute when Hopknison whipped in a cross from the right, but neither Ollie Pearce nor Alex Parsons could convert it.

It was the Rocks who’d made the sharper start and Hopkinson won their first corner six minutes in, but everyone in the six-yard box missed it.

A nice move down the left ended with Ben Johnson curling a lovely cross to the far post on 11 minutes but it washeaded behind for a corner. When that eventually fell to Hopkinson on the edge of the box, he blasted his shot well over the bar.

ET’s Reece Harris earned a lecture from the referee for a foul on Hopkinson and an angry reaction to the foul being given. Sam Higgins got a talking-to a few minutes later for a late challenge on Doug Tuck.

Johnson got to the byline to pull back a cross that fell invitingly for Hopkinson, but his goalbound volley was blocked by a defender.

Whyte played in Hopkinson who had time to cross, but his delivery was beyond Pearce and Parsons.

The Rocks were on top but had failed to test ET keeper David Hughes in the first quarter of the game.

Keeper Smith’s first serious action came on 26 minutes when he got down to claim a dangerous ball in from the left as East Thurrock began to grow in confidence and enjoy more of the game.

The visitors took the lead in the 27th minute when the Rocks lost possession in midfield and a pass through to Lewis Smith saw him narrowly beat the offside flag, draw Smith and sidefoot past him and into the net. It was frustrating for Bognor after they had enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges.

Whyte and Hopkinson caused problems for the ET defence as the Rocks tried to hit back quickly.

Bognor suddenly began to look a little vulnerable at the back, with one ball into the box hoofed clear when Smith could have claimed it.

In truth, the game had become a little scrappy since the goal, with neither side able to keep possession for any decent length of time.

East Thurrock picked up the afternoon’s first booking, midfielder Simon Peddie seeing yellow for a foul as the Rocks attacked down the right.

The Rocks came close to an equaliser in a scramble for a corner four minutes before the break. First Craig Robson then Harvey Whyte tried to force the ball home only to be denied by desperate defending.

A minute later Pearce’s cross from the left looked tailor-made for Parsons but the keeper grabbed it first.

HT 0-1

The Rocks had an early second-half chance to threaten when Parsons won a free-kick 30 yards out. But the visitors cleared when it was played into the box.

The hosts were given an injury scare three minutes after the restart when Medway went down after a challenge.

East Thurrock were almost gifted a second goal on 52 minutes when Robson played a loose pass just outside his own area. Lewis Smith played in Mitchell Gilby and his shot was parried to safety by Grant Smith.

A Bognor free-kick routine on 55 minutes seemed to go wrong but did eventually see the ball fall to Pearce, who tested the keeper with a rasping shot from 20 yards.

The home team were starting to look hungrier for a goal than they had appeared at times before the break, but East Thurrock were defending resolutely.

Parsons was unlucky to pick up a booking for catching the visiting keeper as he claimed a corner.

A 64th-minute corner brought a penalty appeal - turned down - and then a drive from Hopkinson which Hughes had to dive to palm away. Immediately there was another penalty shout when Whyte tumbled, but the referee wasn’t interested.

Medway was booked for a clumsy challenge on his winger, then Jake Thomson replaced Hopkinson with 20 minutes left.

Harris let flt from outside the box but Smith was equal to it, taking off to push the ball behind for a corner.

East Thurrock’s first change brought on Emmanuel Osei for David Bryant.

One of the biggest cheers of the second half - not that it had much competition - came when ET defender Nick Symons managed to hit the corner flag with a wild shot 25 yards from goal.

Higgins shot high and wide for East Thurrock after running on to a pass with 11 minutes left.

The Rocks won a free-kick in an inviting position on 81 minutes. Robson struck it well but Hughes got down to hold it.

Ryan Morey was the Rocks’ second substitute, replacing Parsons with eight minutes left.

Bognor’s afternoon got worse on 87 minutes when Medway was red-carded after picking up a soft second booking near the halfway line.

East Thurrock brought on Ross Parmenter for Gilby.

There was little hint of a Bognor equaliser in the closing stages as a flat afternoon ended in their third home defeat of what’s proving a difficult season.

Osei should have added a second when he ran through on Smith in injury time but the keeper kept it out.

Next up for Bognor is a Tuesday-night trip to Billericay in the league, then they host Lewes in the FA Cup next Saturday.

Rocks: Smith, Crane, Medway, Tuck, Sackman, Robson, Whyte, Hopkinson, Parsons, Pearce, Johnson (c). Subs: Thomson, Morey, Warren, Winterton.

East Thurrock: Hughes, Witherspoon, Stephen, Peddie, Wood, Symons, Bryant, Gilby, Higgins, Smith, Harris. Subs: Sammons, Parmenter, Osei, Anderson, Boswell.

Ref: M Lucie (Southsea)

STEVE BONE

Get all the latest from Nyewood Lane in the Observer on Thursday