Rocks wallop Whitstable to make FA Cup progress
Bognor progressed comfortably to the second qualifying round of the FA Cup by putting five goals past Whitstable Town at the Belmont.
Goals from Jimmy Muitt (2), Bradley Lethbridge, Dan Smith and Mason Walsh secured Bognor's place in the next round as they disposed of their Bostik south-east hosts.
The day began with news that Harvey Sparks has left the club, unfortunate as the left-footed winger impressed when he did feature for the Green Army. It was also revealed left-back Archie Edwards had been released.
New faces were brought in including Charlie Osborne on the bench and full-back Joe Tomlinson, loaned from Brighton. Marley Ridge was missing as Havant blocked his selection to avoid him being cup-tied.
The Oyster Men began brightly enough as Jordan Wright's early cross was headed away by Tommy Block. A long throw out by Dan Lincoln saw Calvin Davies latch on to the ball on the right and his cross towards Dan Smith was intercepted by Dan Eason in the Whitstable goal.
On six minutes Bognor took the lead when Davies’ long ball over defence saw Muitt pounce, hitting the bouncing ball confidently over Eason and into the net. A Whitstable cross found Jai McKinlay, who diverted his header well over. Bognor could have scored again on ten minutes when Doug Tuck combined with Muitt, who struck over the bar.
Tomlinson struck one as he ran in from the left-hand side but his chance was well saved by Eason. Another Wright crossalmost fell to James Morrish but he couldn't quite get to the ball.
Bognor scored again on 22 minutes. A low free-kick by Harvey Whyte was played into the area for Muitt, who got there before the defender and despatched the ball low into the net beyond the outstretched Eason.
For the hosts Wright's cross found Tom Walmsley, who smashed it goalwards and forced Lincoln into a parried save before Davies shepherded the ball out of play. Muitt released Davies to take a free-kick from a tight angle. He hit it high at goal and Eason pushed it over with his right hand. Then Davies was denied again by the goalkeeper from 30 yards as his dipping strike forced a diving stop.
Eason denied Smith a strike on the turn after a short pass into the area on 35 minutes. The goalkeeper was certainly upping his game following the early goals from the Rocks. Davies' cross fell to Muitt, who smashed it high and wide on 38 minutes, then a long ball to the other end saw Ricky Freeman turn and shoot but his attempt flew over the bar from the edge of the box.
Smith committed the goalkeeper into a save following good work from Lethbridge. HT 0-2
Early in the second half Tomlinson's run was spotted by Tuck, who passed to him with a floated ball out to the left, but after doing the hard work the Brighton loanee's cross left much to be desired and was easily cleared.
Muitt forced the goalkeeper into a save but Bognor did score a third on 49 minutes when an unselfish Muitt cut the ball back for Lethbridge in the heart of the box and he slotted it low into the bottom corner. Lethbridge, Muitt and Smith were all denied with low strikes and Bognor were all over Whitstable.
Bognor made it four on 55 minutes as Lethbridge found Smith inside the area and he ran on before shooting the ball low into the bottom corner. Tommy Scutt replaced Chad Field on 57 minutes.
Lethbridge;s cross to the back post was met by Tomlinson’s header but it flew wide and the linesman had his flag up for offside. Muitt used his pace to beat his marker before cutting the ball back to Scutt, who made his way to the edge of the of box before letting fly with a curling shot which was parried away by Eason - and Tomlinson couldn't quite follow it up.
On 65 minutes Lethbridge was replaced by Mason Walsh as Bognor looked to rest key players for upcoming league games, starting with Carshalton Athletic away next Saturday. Scutt found room for a shot that was well kept out by Eason.
Bognor got their fifth goal on 73 minutes. A square pass from the left found Walsh, who let the ball come across his body before smacking it high into the top right corner, another fantastic finish. Corey Heath replaced Keaton Wood, who hadn't had much to do in the back line. Heath was shown a yellow card for a needless late tackle near the touchline on 80 minutes.
Two minutes later Smith found Muitt and the forward made his way into space before curling a shot towards the top corner. He was after his hat-trick but Eason pushed it away with his left hand, tipping it around the goal.
An ironic cheer emanated from the Whitstable fans behind the goal as they won their first corner of the second half. But it was headed wide - and soon the final whistle ended the home team's tough afternoon and sent the Rocks into the next round. The draw is on Monday, though sadly Pagham are not also in the hat - they lost their first qualifying round tie 2-0 at home to Whitehawk.
Rocks: Lincoln, Davies, Tomlinson, Tuck, Field (Scutt 57), Wood (Heath 74), Whyte (c), Block, Smith, Muitt, Lethbridge (Walsh 65). Sub not used: Osborne.