REPORT, PICTURES, HIGHLIGHTS: Muitt double isn't enough for Rocks at Whitehawk
Bognor will rue missed chances at the Enclosed Ground after they let slip a 2-1 lead - earned through a Jimmy Muitt double - to give Whitehawk a share of the spoils.
Bognor’s injury-struck side had high hopes of three points, but it wasn’t quite their day. But the point was something to take away and build on as they head into a crucial stage of the season.
Gary Charman was back on the bench for Bognor and Dover Athletic loanee Manny Adebowale got a start alongside Sami El-Abd less than 24 hours after signing, with Dan Beck replacing Tommy Block in midfield. Still injured and out of the Rocks squad are Ollie Pearce, Chad Field, Keaton Wood, James Crane and Corey Heath.
Bognor started well and in the first minute an attack saw Kristian Campbell do well on the left. However, his one-two passing move with Ben Swallow broke down. Then Ramone Rose’s free-kick into Bognor’s area was headed out by Calvin Davies. Swallow found Muitt on the right and he cut inside but smacked the ball wide.
Davies got to the byline but hit his cross found the side-netting. Another Rose free-kick was booted clear after Campbell had impeded a player. Bognor were trying to get the ball into the box and on seven minutes Swallow’s cross was cleared - then Muitt’s ball into the area evaded everyone.
Swallow crossed for Harvey Whyte who headed the ball over and in the process clashed heads with Muitt, who received treatment. Adebowale and Davies combined to set up Ibra Sekajja.The striker got the ball into the box but it was stopped by Garry Malone.
Campbell crossed for Swallow but he could only flash his header wide. Then Doug Tuck’s cross was missed by Adebowale and Sekajja. Sekajja’s shot was closed down before Muitt went to ground in the box but the referee waved away any claims for a penalty on 15 minutes. Beck and Tuck played in Muitt, who ran on but fired wide. Caden Genovesi stopped Muitt in his tracks and the Rocks were all over Whitehawk.
Substitute Ryan Worrall shot wide for the Hawks - their first chance - shortly after coming on for Kyjuon Marsh-Brown. Lucas Rodrigues sped through but was blocked. Rodrigues ended the move when his cross was straight at Dan Lincoln. A great chance came for Bognor on 30 minutes. Muitt spotted Swallow on the overlap and his cross found Whyte unmarked but he steered his header wide of an open goal.
Muitt was blocked and Whyte ran through and swung a cross in but no-one was there to capitalise. David Ijaha should have done better when he struck another chance wide at the other end. Whitehawk were starting to create chances but Rodrigues smacked another attempt high and wide. Rose hit another shot with power from wide on the right. The deflection off Campbell diverted the ball over the bar. Beck headed the corner out over the bar in defence with Gold Omotayo lurking.
On 45 minutes Whitehawk were in the lead. A penalty was awarded after Adebowale was deemed to have pushed the advancing Simon Mensah in the area. Omotayo sent Lincoln the wrong way from the spot. HT 1-0
Rodrigues’ cross bounced through a crowded penalty area just two minutes after the restart. On 51 minutes Sekajja’s cross fell to Muitt who hit the ball over the bar, though it wouldn’t have counted because of an offside flag.
Elliot Benyon was blocked from the edge of the box, then Mensah smacked the rebound over the bar. Campbell won a corner on the left but Muitt’s cross was again headed away. Another great chance for the Rocks came on 58 minutes. Tuck's pass found Sekajja, who cut the ball back inside to Muitt. With his back to goal and a quick turn, his strike spun up off the crossbar and out.
Tuck headed wide a Swallow cross, rising highest in the box on 62 minutes. But Bognor finally equalised on 65 minutes. Following Whyte's run inside the Hawks half, Sekajja’s low ball was deflected towards the back post and Muitt was waiting to slot it into the net with Malone out of position.
Tuck combined with Campbell before Swallow found space to run into before blasting over from 25 yards. On 70 minutes Tuck’s chance was somehow diverted away by Malone, then Swallow’s cross to the near post was headed at goal by Sekajja and forced the goalkeeper into yet another save.
Bognor took the lead on 72 minutes. Tuck found Muitt with a wonderful pass and Muitt used his pace to beat his marker before chipping the ball confidently over the goalkeeper and into the net to the delight of the travelling fans.
Lincoln was called into action on 75 minutes as he dealt with Worrall’s cross. A crucial chance went begging when Sekajja’s neat knock-on saw Muitt again one on one with the goalkeeper but, looking for his hat-trick, he could only smash it wide of the post.
This would prove costly as Whitehawk netted an equaliser just a minute later. Mensah ran at the defence and his strike flew under Adebowale and beyond the diving Lincoln and into the bottom corner.
Lincoln was better positioned to save Rodrigues’ cross and Omotayo’s header soon after. The Rocks defence seemed to stop as Rodrigues’ chance was stopped by the Bognor goalkeeper. On 85 minutes Campbell’s inspired run forced a corner. Muitt’s corner bounced out to Swallow who was blocked before Whyte smacked it over.
El-Abd blocked an Omotayo free-kick before a Mensah chance was also denied. Ijaha smashed another strike wide as Whitehawk were on the offensive late on. A late Bognor corner saw Charman make his return to the team but despite getting on to the back post he was blocked by another Rocks player as the ball bounced out of play.
The players will see this as two points dropped at Whitehawk after the number of chances they had. They remain 21st and are six points adrift of safety.
The Rocks now look forward to welcoming Leyton Orient in the FA Trophy at Nyewood Lane next Saturday.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Campbell, Tuck, El-Abd, Adebowale, Whyte (Scutt 90), Beck (Block 72), Muitt, Sekajja (Charman 90+2), Swallow. Sub not used: Lea.