Relegation fears grow for Rocks with another defeat and red card

Calvin Davies is shown a controversial red card at Chippenham / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Calvin Davies is shown a controversial red card at Chippenham / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks' hopes of avoiding relegation from National League South are fading after a 1-0 defeat at Chippenham - and their fourth red card of 2018.

The ten men - who lost Calvin Davies to a controversial red in the first half in Wiltshire - battled but again failed to score as their miserable run continued.

Ahead of Tuesday's home game against Welling, they are nine points adrift of the sides outside the relegation zone and many fans are resigned now to a quick return to the Isthmian premier.

The Rocks made the trip to Wiltshire knowing a clash with 18th-placed Chippenham was the perfect match to kick-start their recovery.
Dan Lincoln made the starting line up after his nasty back injury against Truro and Doug Tuck also got a place in midfield after a hamstring problem cleared up. More positive news saw striker Ollie Pearce back on the bench along with defender Sami El-Abd.

Scott Twine had the first shot of the afternoon for the hosts when he struck the ball from outside the box. For the Rocks Jimmy Muitt hit the crossbar with a high hanging cross in the opening minutes. A Ben Swallow corner was bound for Keaton Wood but the ball was headed away while Tuck struck a shot wide on seven minutes. Chippenham's Jake Jackson spun his marker before shooting low and forcing Lincoln into a fine save.

Dan Bowman’s cross was dealt with by Davies and Bognor had the ball in the net on 12 minutes but it didn't count. The low ball in the area by Muitt was put way by Tuck but it was disallowed for an earlier foul. Nick McCootie headed over Robbie Patten’s cross on 16 minutes for the hosts. Goalkeeper Jared Thompson stopped Davies's low cross.
Ibra Sekajja's ball in was headed out to Dan Beck who struck it on the volley from the edge of the area and forced Thompson into a diving save. Then Swallow’s corner was headed over by Kristian Campbell. James Guthrie’s corner caused brief alarm for the Rocks but was cleared.

There was a stoppage in play as McCootie slid in to tackle Davies on 25 minutes. McCootie was hurt but did return. Matt Smith worked the ball forward to Twine whose shot was saved by Lincoln on 31 minutes. McCootie came off and Kaid Mohamed replaced him.

Controversy reigned when Davies was sent off for a challenge just inside Chippenham’s half on Michael Jones inside Chippenham's half. It seemed harsh with Davies thought by many to have won the ball in a sliding challenge and then been fouled himself by a Chippenham player who was shown only yellow.

Unjust or not, it's the Rocks fourth red card of this year - Swallow and Richard Gilot have already served bans and striker Stefan Ljubicic is one game into a three-match suspension. Davies is likely to face three games out.

Swallow went down under a trip by Guthrie who was shown yellow. The Bluebirds enjoyed much of the possession before the half ended. HT 0-0

Sekajja's low ball into the area was knocked away as Swallow and Tuck lurked, then Gilot's strike on the rebound was deflected into the arms of Thompson. Twine hit a scissor kick wide from a curling cross on the right from Smith. Guthrie’s low cross spun up over Lincoln’s crossbar soon after.

On 50 minutes Twine netted the opener as Bognor failed to clear their lines. A deflection off the back of Beck saw the ball fly low beyond Lincoln and into the net.

Manny Adebowale hit an overhead kick well wide from Muitt's corner on 57 minutes. Smith struck high over the bar down the other end and Beck was replaced by Harvey Whyte on 60 minutes.

Darren Mullings spun a shot over following a cross by Bowman, then Alex Ferguson came on for Jackson for Chippenham on 62 minutes. Whyte got the ball forward to Gilot who found Muitt but his cross was too much for Sekajja. Whyte and Patten slid into each other as they went for loose ball and Patten received treatment.

Gary Charman replaced Sekajja for Bognor on 70 minutes. Whyte rounded his marker before crossing for Charman, who had gone straight up front, but failed to get contact on the ball to steer it towards goal. The injured Patten was replaced by Dean Evans on 73 minutes. Tuck failed to get a shot away after decent work from Whyte on the right.

Muitt turned quickly and twisted his ankle and was replaced by Pearce on 77 minutes for his first appearance on the pitch since well before Christmas. Smith’s cross from the left found Ferguson but he headed it over but he was offside anyway.

Twine smashed another chance wide on the volley from Guthrie’s cross soon after as Chippenham ended strongly. Lincoln denied Ferguson with his right leg when he only had the goalkeeper to beat. Twine passed to Smith who curled a shot over from outside the box.

Whyte was booked for retaliation and there was no way back for the Rocks.

Two home games this week MUAT bring some reward if the Rocks are to give themselves a chance of survival.

Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Campbell, Tuck, Adebowale, Wood, Gilot, Beck, (Whyte 60), Muitt (Pearce 77), Sekajja (Charman 70), Swallow
Subs not used: El-Abd, Block.