Bognor gave a good account of themselves in an end-of-season encounter at Imber Court in south-west London, but will be rueing the fact they allowed their recent revival to come to an end.
A draw may well have been a fairer outcome, but the win enabled Met Police to reclaim a top-five place and close in on the play-offs.
Dan Sackman was drafted into the team to replace the injured Sam Pearce and Simon Woods was welcomed back having missed the past couple of weeks through personal commitments.
Despite a young and inexperienced team, Bognor began well, and took the lead in dramatic fashion after just two minutes of play.
Kane Wills released Terry Dodd with an inch-perfect pass, and Dodd’s excellent cross from the right was met by young Doug Tuck. His header beat the keeper but was cleared on the line by Elliott Taylor. The ball broke to Dan Thompson who lashed it in from six yards, much to the delight of the travelling fans behind the goal.
The Rocks almost extended their lead a few minutes later when a Daryl Wollers header was well saved by home keeper Jamie Butler.
Unfortunately however, Bognor’s lead was short-lived as slack defending allowed the home side to draw level after just nine minutes.
An unnecessary free-kick was conceded five yards outside the penalty area, and Charlie Collins took advantage of a poorly-organised defensive wall to score with ease.
Minutes later ex-Rock Billy Crook almost gave the Police the lead, but was adjudged to be offside as he put the ball in the net. The same player then blazed high and wide from a good position as the Rocks found themselves under concerted pressure.
John Dollery whipped a tempting ball in from the right and Charlie Collins only just missed connecting with it with just Stoner to beat. This was followed by David Knight failing to convert when he headed over the bar from just six yards.
Bognor weathered the storm however and looked dangerous as they began to take the game to their hosts. The impressive Thompson was proving a real handful, and he almost restored Bognor’s lead just before the break. A corner from Wills was met by Thompson with a powerful first-time volley from the edge of the box.
The ball rocketed off the join of post and bar and bounced down on the line, and appeared to have crossed the line from some angles. Referee Wes Linden, who was well-positioned, looked in two minds before waving play on.
As a precaution, Woods came on just after the break for Thompson, who had received a knock.
The visitors carried on with some excellent possession and
threatened the home goal on a number of occasions with Dan Kempson’s 30-yard free-kick well-saved by Butler. Ollie Pearce also came close to scoring with a determined run into the box. He beat two defenders and lobbed the keeper, but the ball went
agonisingly just past the far post.
Just when it looked as if Bognor were taking control, the Police took the lead. An excellent save by Craig Stoner from Howard Newton broke kindly to Charlie Collins, who slid the ball in for his second goal of the evening.
Bognor did not give up, and Dodd produced an equaliser within ten minutes. He began with a wonderful shot from all of 30 yards which was superbly tipped over the bar by Jamie Butler. From the resultant Wills corner, Dodd smashed the ball in from close range.
Met Police desperately needed a win to boost their play-off chances, and clinched it just four minutes later. Sam Clayton powered down the right wing and swung over an accurate ball to David Collins lurking on the penalty spot. Collins outmuscled two Rocks defenders to eventually push the ball past Stoner.
Minutes later Dollery should have added to Met Police’s tally but hurried his shot when in a good position.
Bognor introduced Connor Cody as a replacement for the impressive Josh Warren and continued to search for another equaliser. The last ten minutes saw a real end-to-end affair, with Dodd and Ollie Pearce coming so close for Bognor and Newton and
Collins almost scoring for the Police.
Bognor will be disappointed that a couple of defensive errors cost them dearly, but will be pleased with many aspects of their game against a strong Met police side, who appear to have found a winning consistency at just the right time.
ROCKS: Stoner, Warren, Tuck, Stockford, Sackman, Wollers, Kempson, Wills, Thompson, Dodd, O Pearce. Subs: S Pearce, Woods (47 for Thompson), Cody (83 for Warren), Killpartrick, Boyle.
The Rocks host Lowestoft in the season’s final home game this Saturday.