THE Rocks and their magnificent band of travelling supporters endured a torrid evening in the Suffolk mist on Tuesday evening, and were well beaten by a Leiston side who were full of confidence.
With both Stuart Axten and James Crane only arriving at the ground less than ten minutes before kick-off, it was perhaps not surprising that the visitors looked sluggish straight from the start.
Nmandi Nwachuku and Joe Francis in particular looked very dangerous as they set up several strong attacks in the first ten minutes.
Just as it looked as if Bognor had weathered the early storm, Francis opened the scoring for Leiston on 17 minutes.
Referee Mr Burnham awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, having spotted an offence that even the home side had not seen, judging by the lack of any appeals. The winger smashed the ball past the defensive wall and into the far left-hand corner of the goal despite Mark Zawadski’s despairing dive.
Leiston continued to press, and it was no surprise when they went further in front ten minutes later. This time Nwachuku shot from distance and Zawadski saved well. However, the resultant corner broke to Stuart Broadley whose cross into the goalmouth was slotted home by Jack Simmons.
Bognor responded well, and mounted several attacks in quick succession. Ollie Pearce controlled the ball well, beat two defenders and his powerful shot was just tipped around the post by Danny Gay.
Moments later, Terry Dodd outpaced the full-back and his cross was just right for Pearce, who swept the ball home from ten yards to reduce the deficit.
Just when it seemed as if Bognor may salvage the game, Leiston scored the goal of the match. Boardley sent a sublime pass through to Francis whose speed was too much for Paul Hinshelwood. Francis slammed the ball home from an acute angle.
The Rocks, however, did not give up and had the better of the remainder of the first half. Following a succession of corners, Craig Robson rose to head home powerfully to again reduce the deficit.
If the visiting supporters had anticipated that this would spur the Rocks on in the second period, they would have been disappointed. Leiston came out with great passion and creativity, and their powerful running had the Bognor defence in tatters at times.
It was no surprise when they scored number four after just 52 minutes. Joe Jefford was under no pressure as he headed in following a corner.
Bognor did have a number of counter attacks, and Arron Hopkinson set off on one of his mesmerising runs before laying the ball off to Doug Tuck’ whose shot from 20 yards was well saved.
Substitute Ben Godfrey also came close as Bognor forced a number of corners, but it was disappointing that no clear cut scoring opportunities were created.
As the fog rolled in the night was brought to a close with Leiston’s final goal. In the gloom, created by a combination of the fog and poor floodlights, it was difficult to see who the culprit was, but a home player was clearly brought down in the box and there could be no complaint at the award of a penalty.
Gareth Heath scored confidently to produce a scoreline of 5-2, a result which did not flatter the home side at all.
BOGNOR: Zawadski, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck (Sackman), Axten, Robson, Hopkinson, Wills, Dodd (Chamberlain), Pearce and Murembedzie (Godfrey)