Met Police cop it at Bognor
THEY were without four key players and were probably not at their best - but the Rocks still managed to beat old rivals Met Police to go sixth in the Ryman premier.
A Jason Prior penalty and a strike by impressive sub Alfie Rutherford were enough to earn a 2-1 win.
Bognor were without Doug Tuck and Alex Parsons through new injury problems, whilst Craig Robson and James Crane were still suspended. Snorre Nilsen and Gary Charman got starts.
Rocks start well and a through ball to Prior saw the striker run on to it before squaring to Ollie Pearce in the box. But Pearce shot wide from close range.
A swift Harvey Whyte forced a save from goalkeeper Craig King on six minutes. Prior hit the rebound from only a few yards out but somehow clipped the bar with his attempt.
Pearce drilled an attempt over the bar from a cross-field ball as Rocks failed to hit the target again.
Met Police posed a threat when in Bognor’s half and Joe Turner tried his luck with a shot that flew wide.
On 15 minutes a good stop from Grant Smith denied Ryan Case. From set pieces the visitors looked a threat and on 20 minutes a Charlie Collins free-kick found the head of Rob Bartley, who could only loop his header well over the crossbar.
But on 23 minutes there appeared to be a real lack of communication or movement in the box as a cross from the left was eventually poked in after the ball fell to the feet of Jon Nurse, who had enough time to give the visitors the lead.
Gaining confidence, the visitors continued to attack. Case’s cross found Taureen Roberts near the back post but the striker’s header flew back across the face of goal, much to Bognor’s relief.
Bognor just couldn’t find an equaliser and Whyte’s cross towards Prior at the far post was headed out for a corner. Pearce’s cross was eventually cleared, much to the fans’ frustration.
Bognor’s best chance of the first half came right before the whistle. Following hold-up play by Whyte on the right, Charman charged into space before forcing a fingertip save from King. Pearce’s corner found Chad Field on his own but the defender’s header was directed straight at King.
A penalty was awarded to Bognor two minutes after the restart. Pearce went to ground in the box under a challenge and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped in-form Prior to placel the ball beyond King to level the score.
Following a run on 52 minutes, Charman went to ground clutching his hamstring. Rutherford replaced him.
On 56 minutes Stuart Green’s fierce run was stopped in its tracks by Bartley and the referee deemed it to be a foul just outside the box. Bartley was booked and the free-kick found Prior ,who headed the ball back to the onrushing Green – but somehow his instant shot was deflected away to safety from inside the box.
Sami El-Abd flicked a header on after a Pearce corner on the left but again Met Police’s resolute defending held out.
Nilsen received a booking for tripping Nurse outside the box. Collins’ direct free-kick was wide.
Bognor led on 68 minutes. Rutherford did well to get the ball and move into the box and firing in a hard shot, saw the ball take a ricochet, hit the post and go in - an inspired substitution indeed.
Bognor improved following their second goal, and with 15 minutes left some great work saw Rutherford eventually win a corner. Pearce took it and it fell to Whyte, but his low attempt slid wide of the left post.
On 79 minutes Jamie Horncastle replaced Green for Bognor.
On a Met break, Pearce slid in to try to win the ball back but in doing so, and missing the player, Pearce appeared to injure his knee while sliding in at full speed. Lloyd Rowlatt replaced him.
Sami El-Abd went into the book for a foul on the edge of the area but Collins’ attempt swirled wildly over the bar.
Bognor did well to hold on to their lead throughout stoppage time and will see this as an important win at a time when they were without key players.
They now turn their attentions to the FA Cup and host Merstham in the first qualifying round on Saturday.
Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Wollers, Nilsen, El-Abd, Field, Green (Horncastle 79), Beck, Prior (c), Pearce (Rowlatt 84), Charman (Rutherford 52). Unused Sub: Warren.
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