Horsham edge win over Bognor Regis Town – but both play part in remarkable nine-goal thriller

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Horsham and Bognor Regis Town staged one of the games of the season in the Isthmian premier division – and the Hornets were glad to hear the final whistle despite having put five past two different Rocks keepers.

It was something of a game of two halves as Bognor were defeated by the odd goal in nine, a result which strengthens Horsham’s bid for a play-off place.

Despite a poor first half where Bognor were behind 5-2 at the break, they were able to stay in the game with a comeback in the second half and were perhaps unfortunate not to take a point in the end. Dan Gifford and Tommy-Lee Higgs both scored twice in an entertaining game.

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Harvey Whyte was confirmed fit after his foot injury in midweek and did feature in the starting line-up for Bognor, who were looking to get back to winning ways against play-off battling Horsham.

The Hornets and the Rocks go toe to toe | Picture: Trevor StaffThe Hornets and the Rocks go toe to toe | Picture: Trevor Staff
The Hornets and the Rocks go toe to toe | Picture: Trevor Staff

The match in pictures by Lyn Phillips and Trevor Staff.Rocks keeper Ryan Hall was there to head out a long through-ball but didn't get enough on it. Danny Barker was almost set through but Whyte cleared up the danger. Jasper Mather dragged a long range effort wide of the left post soon after, sparking ironic cheers from the home support.Joe Rabbetts made a nice run from defence to get Bognor on the attack but his ball through to Mather rolled out of touch. Then Harvey Sparks took an inswinging corner from the right which was headed away by Craig Robson in the box.Bognor went ahead as Lucas Pattenden burst down the right before firing in a cross and it was Gifford who slid in the earliest at the near post to steer it into the net off the post on 12 minutes.Lucas Rodrigues found Daniel Ajakaiye who won a free-kick after being tripped by Whyte after his winding run. Whyte went into the book. James Hammond curled the free-kick over the wall and it dipped into the net beyond a diving Hall for 1-1.

Shamir Fenelon got the Hornets’ second goal, lobbing Hall on 18 minutes as Bognor were making serious errors at the back.But the lead wasn't for long as Bognor got their equaliser on 20 minutes as Mather had a low shot denied by Lewis Carey. The ball ricocheted out for Gifford who was blocked before Higgs found the net with a half volley from the bouncing loose ball.Hammond picked out Jack Strange with his corner on 25 minutes. The defender rose highest to power it into the net with his header regaining the hosts’ lead – 3-2.

Joe Briffa went into the book for a foul and conceded another free-kick in front of the penalty area. Hammond again stepped up and only just missed the far post. Rabbetts combined with Mather on the left before firing it along the deck and into the box and Higgs went to ground, but the referee ignored the claims for a penalty.Briffa got Bognor on the attack again. Pattenden and Seung-Woo Yang partnered up before Higgs smashed a chance at goal but it was always rising just over the crossbar. Charlie Hester-Cook went into the book as he tripped Matt Burgess in Bognor's half soon after.Ajakaiye responded well to a forward ball over the defence to time his run well. He diverted it over Hall and into the net for Horsham's fourth on 38 minutes as Bognor's back line were beaten again.Fenelon hit the crossbar as another long ball over the top saw him beat the offside trap, but despite beating Hall again the ball bounced out again off the crossbar. Lee Harding went into the book for a foul. The ball was swung in and it was Whyte who met it in the air under pressure from the defence. But Carey saved it.Ajakaiye committed Hall into another save. But soon after, Whyte was deemed to have brought his attacker down in the box and a penalty was awarded straight away. Hammond stepped up to power into the net from the spot inside first half stoppage time, ending a miserable half for the Rocks. HT 5-2More bad news greeted the Rocks fans as Hall had to be replaced by under-18s goalkeeper Archie Bennett at half-time due to injury.Burgess got Bognor on the attack as an improvement was needed in the second half from the visitors. Gifford won a free-kick just outside the box. However, Higgs hit the kick straight into the wall. Higgs saw a cross flash across the box and had a shot rising over the bar soon after.Harding responded with another Horsham attack. He squared the ball to Hester-Cook, who curled his effort from 20 yards out high over the bar. A quick move saw Sparks shoot at goal. But Bennett did well to get a glove at it to divert it away.Mather glanced a header wide of the right post following Burgess's corner. Briffa was replaced by Rocks new boy Charlie Osborne on 60 minutes.Sparks swung in a neat free-kick ball straight into the box and Fenelon headed it into the net. He was flagged for offside and so the goal didnt count. Then Yang hit a volley direct from another corner by Burgess and then Gifford's ball across the goal was cut out by Carey.Mather was deemed to have been tripped in the box. The referee didn't hesitate in giving the penalty. Higgs stepped up to slam the ball into the net to make it 5-3 on 72 minutes, giving Rocks some hope of a way back into the game.Horsham hit a free-kick from their own area and it only just flew over Bognor's goal on 79 minutes. Bognor, amazingly, got their fourth goal on 84 minutes as Pattenden was again the provider down the right with a wonderful ball across the box for Gifford to divert it in.Soon after, Mather, on the turn, shot wide after a forward ball by Burgess in a much better second half from the Rocks. Then Reece Myles-Meekums went into the book for a clear foul on Rabbetts.Mather went down in the box again as he wound his way into the box the heart of the Hornets area but the referee ignored his claims for a penalty. Then Burgess played it out wide to Pattenden who ran with speed but he tumbled over the guardrail and landed on his head on the concrete surround. But miraculously he was able to return to the action after being checked on by physio Leah Ilsley.Bognor had a superb second half and it ended with a neat ball through to Burgess in acres of space before he let fly with a long range effort, but it hit was high over the bar.The Rocks will take some heart knowing they never gave up here – and they take on Hastings United next on Saturday at the MKM Arena at 3pm.Rocks: Hall (Bennett 45), Yang (Bridgman 79), Rabbetts, Briffa (Osborne 60), Whyte, Robson, Pattenden, Burgess (c), Higgs, Gifford, MatherSubs not used: Downs, Holland.

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