Late equaliser frustrates Bognor Regis Town – but unbeaten league run goes on

A crowd of more than 1,000 packed into Nyewood Lane and saw Bognor’s winning Isthmian League run end – but the home fans could at least go home happy their unbeaten run is still going.
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The Rocks were held to a draw by 10-man Cheshunt at the MKM Arena in a hotly contested match in which Bognor had over 20 chances but only scored one and paid the price for it by conceding a late equaliser.

Nevertheless that’s six wins and a draw in their past seven in the league and they’re seventh, just two points and two places outside the play-off zone.

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This went a long way to banishing the rather raw memories of the midweek Sussex Senior Cup 6-1 defeat at Littlehampton.

Jasper Mather's strike gives Bognor a 1-0 lead over Cheshunt | Picture: Trevor StaffJasper Mather's strike gives Bognor a 1-0 lead over Cheshunt | Picture: Trevor Staff
Jasper Mather's strike gives Bognor a 1-0 lead over Cheshunt | Picture: Trevor Staff

A late change saw Craig Robson pull up in the warm-up and have to be replaced by Kieran Douglas in the starting line-up. Joe Briffa took over from Douglas on the bench.

Inside the first two minutes Cheshunt had the ball in the net but Nnamdi Nwachukwu's goal didn't stand as he was offside. Then Calvin Davies chipped the ball out wide for Alfie Bridgman to get a cross in, but this was hacked clear. Nwachukwu ran inside from the left after a swift counter attack but his right-footed strike flew high over the bar on six minutes.

Davies made a good interception and won the ball in Cheshunt's half but his low cross in was gathered by Woody Williamson. Bognor had a chance as Dan Gifford burst through and decided to pass out wide to Lucas Pattenden instead of shooting. Pattenden got the cross in which was battled for in the air by Gifford but the ball fell to Tommy-Lee Higgs with his back to goal. However, his flicked chance flew high over the crossbar on 12 minutes.

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Higgs did well to pass inside to Gifford who knocked it out to the right and Pattenden did well to cut inside and pass square to Ben Anderson but his short advance and fierce effort was always rising over the bar. Then Cheshunt bizarrely won a corner after a shot by Jamie Reynolds appeared to be deflected by the head of Nwachukwu out of play.

Celebrations follow Jasper Mather's goal | Picture: Trevor StaffCelebrations follow Jasper Mather's goal | Picture: Trevor Staff
Celebrations follow Jasper Mather's goal | Picture: Trevor Staff

In a worrying moment for Bognor, Pattenden pulled up off the ball and had to be replaced by Jasper Mather on 21 minutes.

Gifford did well to win possession to pass it out wide for Bridgman, who was switched to the right. Bridgman cut inside before unleashing a left-footed strike and forcing Williamson into a parried save. Gifford won the ball with a great tackle. He passed it off to Higgs who made a little run into the area before firing it hard at goal. It was pushed out by the keeper as Bognor were playing well and creating chances.

It got worse as the injury count increased – Anderson went off injured after a challenge on Isiah Noel-Williams. The Rocks midfielder also went into the book on 30 minutes before coming off for Joe Rabbetts, who has been also struggling with tonsillitis.

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Douglas appeared to go through the back of Nwachukwu and the referee missed the challenge and so play continued until the Cheshunt striker received treatment. On 39 minutes Rocks stopper Ryan Hall gathered a high hanging corner kick by Antonis Vasiliou from the right.

Marcel Elva-Fontaine got a nice cross in from the right and it was flicked on by a defender right into the path of Vasiliou in the box. His strike was pushed away well by Hall in first half stoppage time.

Bognor had a good chance deep into added-on time. Gifford laid the ball off for Higgs who fired it at goal but a good save from Williamson denied him. Then Mather’s effort on the rebound was blocked by a defender.

Just after this Mather squared it to Davies who hit it right footed and wide. HT 0-0

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Dejon Noel-Williams had to come on to replace the dangerous Nwachukwu on 46 minutes within seconds of the second half kicking off. Eventually he was allowed on after a lengthy delay with a problem with his hand.

Bognor deservedly took the lead A ball in from the right by Bridgman was nodded down by Higgs on the back post and Mather was unmarked before belting it in on 49 minutes.

Bognor should have scored again seconds later as Higgs latched on to a ball won in the air by Gifford. Higgs hit it on the volley and agonisingly wide of the right post.

Douglas had to receive treatment for a dislodged tooth after a blow to the head and had to receive treatment, which held up for play for a while. He eventually had to be replaced by Dan Smith on 57 minutes.

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A straight red was rightly shown to Cheshunt’s Jamie Reynolds as his bad challenge on 64 minutes saw his studs up on Rabbetts in the centre circle.Bognor should have gone two goals up as Mather's chance was saved and then Matt Burgess struck wide on the follow up. Davies's free-kick was punched away and then Spencer Spurway fired one wide of the goal on 68 minutes.

Mather struck wide of the post and Smith was solid at the back, heading everything out of defence for Bognor.

Soon after, Burgess went into the book for a challenge on Noel-Williams. Taylor Miles was booked for a poor challenge on Higgs. The resulting free-kick by Davies was curled into the area. It was headed up high and the ball was knocked down into the path of Mather, who hit it on the rise but sliced it wide on 78 minutes.

Mather looked to have been shoved to the ground in the box but the referee ignored the claims on 79 minutes. Burgess did well to win possession in the opposition half before running on and shooting low but Williamson was equal to it, diverting it away.

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Bridgman, playing better on the right, cut inside and looked destined to score but fired it low and wide of the post in yet another great chance.

Cheshunt got their equaliser on 84 minutes. A free-kick was given away by Spurway, it was taken by Vasiliou and the curled forward ball saw Hall appear to gather it and he looked to have been fouled in the air, but the ball fell loose and it was Noel-Williams who slammed the ball into the unguarded net.Rabbetts had another strike wide, the 20th chance on goal, with the Rocks all over the visitors in the latter stages.

Then Chevron McLean was shown a yellow card in stoppage time. He fouled Davies on the touchline and reacted. Goalkeeper Williamson also got a yellow card for time-wasting at a goal kick.

Bognor battled for a winner right to the very end but were held. They now welcome Wingate & Finchley to Nyewood Lane on Tuesday (7:45pm).

Rocks: Hall, Whyte, Davies, Burgess, Spurway, Douglas (Smith 57), Pattenden (Mather 21), Anderson (Rabbetts 30), Higgs, Gifford, Bridgman. Sub not used: Olaniyan, Briffa.