Smith hat-trick and Cook stunner earn Bognor victory over Enfield
Dan Smith's devasating hat-trick and a goal of the season contender by Joe Cook earned Bognor a top-class 4-1 win at home to fellow Isthmian premier promotion hopefuls Enfield.
Smith scored a superb solo goal then added two more before Muhammadu Faal got one back for the north London team. But Cook ensured there was no comeback with a fourth Rocks goal – from all of 30 yards out.
The win didn't lift Bognor any higher than their eighth spot but they are now just three points behind their visitors, who occupy the final play-off position of fifth.
Bognor went into the game in a fine run of the league form – without a defeat for nearly two months.
They were without Brad Lethbridge and Josh Flint, who had been recalled by Pompey although not used in the Fratton Park Football League Trophy clash with Northampton, while new utility man Ross Edwards was missing with a badly bruised toe.
Centre-half Keaton Wood was sporting a mask after sustaining a broken nose in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Hornchurch.
Both sides possessed one of the Isthmian premier division's top scorers – Bognor's Dan Smith and Enfield's Muhammadu Faal each having scored a dozen goals in the league.
The Rocks were first to put a promising move together as Ashton Leigh and Mason Walsh combined down the left five minutes in but Leigh took too long before shooting and Enfield cleared.
Then Harvey Whyte surged forward and played Walsh into space but his cross, aimed at Smith, was cut out. Immediately Bognor got it back into the danger zone but Walsh's low shot was an easy take for keeper Nathan McDonald.
Enfield thought they'd scored on 11 minutes when Faal just had to stroke the ball into an empty net after Amadou Tangara and Wood collided in going for the same high ball in, but after a delay, it was ruled out for offside.
The north London side were looking the more threatening side and Billy Bricknell wasn't far off target from 20 yards.
But it was Bognor who took the lead on 17 minutes – with a special goal. Walsh won a free-kick which Tommy Leigh played to Smith's feet just outside the area. He somehow twisted away from the attention of three defenders, ran on and fired a fierce shot beyond McDonald and into the top corner.
With their tails up, the Rocks might have added a second when Smith chased what looked a lost cause and almost beat McDonald, then when Doug Tuck nearly worked his way free in the box.
Joe Cook sent a free header just the wrong side of the post from a Tommy Leigh corner on 24 minutes.
Enfield skipper Ryan Blackman was booked for a heavy challenge on Tommy Leigh that caused a short hold-up.
Smith was causing Enfield all sorts of problems and one cross from the right was just too far forward for Ashton Leigh, sliding in at the far post.
Whyte almost hooked in a ball headed down from a corner.
Ashton Leigh was booked, apparently for dissent after complaining about an offside ruling.
The same player took centre stage again a couple of minutes before the break when he beat his man in the box and forced a low near-post save from McDonald.
Enfield were feeding off scraps as the half ended – as evidenced by a weak Bricknell shot. Then their night got worse as Blackman caught Tommy Leigh again and picked up his second yellow of the night and was sent off.
Tommy Leigh was replaced by Ben Mendoza at the start of the second half, while Enfield brought on Junior Mubiaiyi for Alfred Bawling.
Bognor began the second half on the attack but a good opening for Walsh ended with him miscuing the shot terribly. Then Crane cut in from the right for a curling shot that was straight at McDonald.
Sub Mendoza did well down the Bognor left but when he squared it to Smith, the goalscorer's shot was way over the bar. Smith's next effort – from 25 yards – was better but also too high.
Mendoza was having an influence on the game despite having just come in and played a part in the Rocks' second. He sprayed a pass out to Ashton Leigh on the left and his high cross was met first time by Smith, who touched it beneath McDonald.
It looked like a third goal was coming a minute later when Crane ran clear down the right and beat McDonald but his shot came back off the post and was cleared. Another attack down the right ended with Crane playing it back to Smith, whose shot went out for a corner via a defender's leg.
Bricknell worked dpace for a shot at Tangara on the hour but it was all along the ground and scooped up easily by the stopper. At the other end Smith sent a low cross-shot across goal but there was no-one there to touch it in.
On 63 minutes Tommy Scutt replaced Walsh, who looked like he might have suffered a hamstring strain.
Smith had hia hat-trick a minute later when he volleyed in left-footed after Cook headed a corner into his path.
Wood was booked for fouling Faal, who then made Bognor pay by turning the ball in from close range when the free-kick came in.
Faal was replaced by Sampson Esan with 18 minutes left – having been Town's best player.
Smith turned provider on 78 minutes when he squared to Crane on the edge of the box after good work down the right, but Crane curled it just high and wide.
Having conceded one, Bognor looked nervy for a while – but those nerves were calmed when they went back on the attack.
Scott Thomas was booked for impeding Smith – to the dismay of the Enfield bench, who couldn't see what he'd done wrong – and when the free-kick was cleared, the ball eventually fell to Cook who unleashed a superb shot from 30 yards that flew past the helpless McDonald and in.
Smith wanted a fourth and a shot fizzed inches over the bar with the crowd willing it to go in for what would have been the forward's second four-goal game of the season.
Arron Hopkinson replaced Tuck and then Whyte forced McDonald into a parried save with a rifled shot.
To Enfield's credit they did keep trying to get forward and Sam Youngs brought a comfortable save out of Tangara. But it was not their night – and very definitely was Bognor's as they chalked up another win and moved that little bit closer to the leaders in the promotion race.
Rocks Tangara, Dandy, Crane, Tuck, Cook, Wood, Whyte, T Leigh, Smith, Walsh, A Leigh. Subs: Scutt, Hopkinson, Wakley, Mendoza, Hensel.
Enfield: McDonald, Hatton, Payne, Thomas, Wilson, Muleba, Youngs, Blackman, Bricknell, Faal, Bawling. Subs: Mubiaiyi, Weatherstone, Esan, Charles, Brown-Bamrose.
Ref: Sean Jenkins
* Next up for Bognor is a trip to Carshalton on Saturday, then they host Horsham YMCA in the Sussex Cup next Tuesday.