Rocks bounce back with stunning Sudbury success
Jimmy Muitt netted a hat-trick as Bognor finished 4-0 winners at AFC Sudbury to hold on to top spot in the Ryman premier.
The result was not really in doubt from the moment Muitt put Bognor ahead after eight minutes, and the win puts last week's 1-0 loss at Enfield behind them.
With three games to go, the Rocks remain a point clear of Havant, who beat Tonbridge 2-0.
Bognor made the trip to Suffolk to the Wardale Williams Stadium knowing Sudbury hadn't won for a month. Dylan Barnett returned to the the Bognor side following injury and Darren Budd was back in the starting line-up, with Gary Charman and Ollie Pearce on the bench. James Crane was missing because of work commitments.
Two minutes in, Sudbury's Dylan Williams teed up Danny Crow with a forward header but as he beat his marker his low shot rolled past the far post. Robert Eagle sent in another cross but it was scuffed wide by Craig Parker from inside the box.
Harvey Whyte fed Muitt on the counter-attack but after running some way, the striker could only shoot well wide, while at the other end Crow could only roll a shot into Dan Lincoln's arms. On eight minutes, Muitt latched on to a Jimmy Wild cross from the left to head home and give Bognor an early lead.
As Sudbury tried to hit back, Eagle's ball into the box found Crow but his fierce shot was deflected over the bar by Lincoln. Sam Corcoran's corner on the left picked out Parker, whose glancing header ricocheted off the crossbar on 11 minutes.Wild smashed another attempt wide moments later.
Corcoran hit one from the edge of the box but it deflected wide off James Fraser's face. Calvin Davies won the Rocks a corner on the right. Barnett's kick was heading Sami El-Abd's way but was cleared. Jack Wilkinson's long dipping throw was almost diverted in by a defender but it was gathered by Lincoln.
Barnett's free-kick was well stopped by Marcus Garnham on 18 minutes. Sudbury were down to ten men when James Baker was sent off after he was deemed to have brought down Wild on 20 minutes on the edge of the box. Barnett's free-kick was headed away. Then Davies' cross from the right had to be punched clear by the goalkeeper after a pass by Muitt. Whyte's through ball to Muitt saw him cross but Wild mistimed his run for the header.
Harvey Whyte smashed a shot first time but it came back off the post to Muitt, who sliced it high and wide on 30 minutes. Bognor's second goal came on 31 minutes. Fraser won the ball in midfield and chipped the ball over the top to Muitt, who composed himself before slotting it beyond Garnham from close range to make it 2-0.
Eagle committed Lincoln into a diving save moments later as Sudbury had to find a way back. Then Oliver Dunlop only had Lincoln to beat but slid his shot wide of the post after Budd had challenged him.
Eagle's free-kick was almost headed into his own net by Wild but the header bounced wide. Muitt stole the ball in a good area but from a tight angle could only force Garnham into an easy save. Budd played a short pass forward to Wild. He turned his marker before shooting low and wide. Soon after, Budd's corner spun onto the head of Fraser who powered it wide of the post.
At the start of the second half, Doug Tuck chipped it down the right to Muitt who crossed for Whyte and he headed it at goal. The header forced a diving save from Garnham, who managed to push it on to the post and out. Another cross fell to Fraser and he headed it back inside for Whyte again but this time his header was easily saved on 48 minutes. Barnett's in-swinging corner had to be punched away by Garnham under his crossbar as Bognor started the second half well.
Muitt secured his hat-trick as he beat two defenders before shooting low into the net as the ball fell to him on 55 minutes.
Dunlop latched on to a poor clearance but his strike with his first touch rolled wide. Whyte was replaced by Pearce on 58 minutes. And for Sudbury, Crow came off for Tyler French.
Muitt received a yellow card for a foul on Williams on the hour, and four minutes later Alex Parsons replaced the hat-trick hero. Dunlop was replaced by Mekhi McKenzie for the hosts on 66 minutes.
Parsons was immediately involved as he crossed from the right to Davies, but he failed to get anything on it. Parsons was pulled back by Williams in the centre of the park and the Sudbury man received a booking.
From Pearce's right-sided corner the ball bounced out to Budd who slammed it on the volley on 70 minutes. Garnham had no chance as the ball fizzed into the net for 4-0.
Barnett was replaced by young midfielder Tommy Block on 74 minutes in Bognor's last change. Tuck struck the ball forward looking for Wild but the ball fell to Fraser who ran on to shoot. Garnham easily saved it.
With ten minutes left, Tuck tripped a Sudbury player in the box and a penalty was awarded. Parker stepped up but Lincoln dived the right way to save it. The follow-up on the rebound went wide.
Davies was booked for kicking out at a player as Bognor won a corner. Soon after the kick, Pearce's cross found Fraser but he nodded it wide. Williams was replaced by Aidan Austin on 87 minutes. Austin was booked almost straight away for a late challenge on Parsons on 88 minutes.
Pearce got a late chance but he was scuppered by the goalkeeper's boot - but Bognor were comfortable winners after three minutes of stoppage time and stay top for at least another week.
Attendance - 362
AFC Sudbury: Garnham, Allen, Wilkinson, Corcoran, Baker, Tann, Dunlop (McKenzie 66), Williams (Austin 87), Crow (French 58), Parker, Eagle. Subs not used: Blackman, Robinson.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Barnett (Block 74), Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Fraser, Budd, Wild, Muitt (Parsons 64), Whyte (Pearce 58). Subs not used: Charman, Beck.
by LIAM GOODLEY
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