Back on form! Trio of new faces help Bognor to vital win over Haringey
A new-look back line helped Bognor finally get back to winning ways with a clean sheet, two outstanding goals and a dominant display against high-flyers Haringey Borough at Nyewood Lane.
Bognor fielded three new faces - Reading loanee James Holden in goal and Pompey and Havant defenders Joe Hancott and Joe Cook, also on loan, as they tried again to kick-start their season. Ben Clark-Eden and Ashton Leigh dropped to the bench while young keeper Petar Durin has gone back to pompey.
Harvey Whyte's early cross from the right saw Bradley Lethbridge stretch but just fail to make contact. Whyte smacked one low at goal, forcing Valery Pajetat into a diving save and the follow-up by Lethbridge was blocked.
The linesman's flag broke, meaning a stoppage in play while he got a replacement. Stelios Demetriou's throw towards the area was headed out by Cook before Lethbridge's left sided cross won a corner. Doug Tuck cross to the back post was met by Dan Smith's knock-down but Cook sliced his attempt over the bar.
Smith went to ground under pressure but claims for a penalty were ignored. Keaton Wood played in Tommy Leigh who in turn found Tuck. His wonderful ball to Smith ended with a shot over the bar.
Keeper Pajetat pulled up and required treatment. Konstantinos Alexandrou flickd a chance just wide from a Haringey corner on 20 minutes.
On 21 minutes, Leigh played it forward to Lethbridge, who found Jimmy Muitt - but he rolled the ball wide. Another decent move saw Tommy Leigh, Tuck and Smith combine well.
Bognor deservedly took the lead on 31 minutes. They worked the ball forward and Smith's hard work ended in a simple pass to an unmarked Tommy Leigh, who curled it fantastically into the top corner beyond the outstretched hand of Pajetat. That gave Bognor and their fans - who know their side do well when they score first - a lift.
Wood was called into action as Boro tried to hit back, a couple of good bits of work including a deflection to thwart a strike by Chiduben Onokwai. Lethbridge struck a free-kick over the wall and narrowly wide.
Bognor were playing some sublime football and Muitt, Lethbridge and Tuck all had chances blocked by last-ditch tackling from Haringey.
Cook was booked on 39 minutes before Lethbridge curled a shot over Pajetat and hit the underside of the bar on 43 minutes and somehow stayed out. Muitt hit the framework a minute later. Wood headed a chance agonisingly wide of the post as Bognor played some brilliant football.
Dimitrios Froxylias belted an effort well over the goal at the other end. HT 1-0
Hancott denied Dimitrios Froxylias early in the second half, then Muitt's cross was cut out by Pajetat and Whyte went close with a fierce drive.
Tuck teed up Leigh who rippled the side netting with a curling shot. Another well worked chance saw Tommy Leigh find Muitt and his cross picked out Lethbridge, but his attempt was easily saved by Pajetat.
Scott Mitchell went into the book on 63 minutes before Tommy Leigh's low strike was well stopped by Pajetat. Muitt looked to have been brought down in the area with only the goalkeeper to beat but the referee ignored the claims. Onokwai diverted a cross agonisingly wide.
Tuck's curling cross found Smith on 66 minutes but he glanced his header over the bar. Smith burst forward and seemed to get beyond the defence but he went to ground appearing to be fouled, though the referee booked Smith for simulation.
Romoluwa Akinola and Michaek Ademileyi combined in Bognor's penalty area but Wood, who had a great game, was in their way. Holden caught another forward ball in the box before Hancott's high ball into the box was well caught by Pajetat. Tuck's shot forced Pajetat into a save and Muitt's cross had to be punched clear by the goalkeeper.
Bognor got the second goal they needed with 12 minutes left. Superb work from Smith to chase the ball on the left ended with him finding Muitt on the back post and he slammed it home with his first touch, sparking joy around the Lane as the home fans knew three points were on the way.
James Crane had a shot blocked and Leigh's follow-up was wide. Smith did everything but score when he received the ball from Muitt on the right, his deflected shot flying over the bar.
Haringey's Olumide Durajaiye got a straight red card as he fouled and then lashed out at Tommy Leigh, a sign of frustratiion for the visitors.
Tuck's well-struck volley was high and wide in the final chance of the game.
This was just the sort of performance the management team have wanted from their players for a while. It was a game devoid of any defensive errors, and the clean sheet will have pleased them. Can it be a turning point? We will find out more about the team on Tuesday when they host Leatherhead (7.45pm).
Rocks: Holden, Crane, Hancott, Tuck, Cook, Wood, Whyte, T Leigh, Smith, Muitt (Simmonds 90), Lethbridge (Hensel 85). Subs not used: A Leigh, Clark-Eden, Scutt.
Attendance - 408