Despite manager Garry Haylock fielding United's most attacking side yet, a less than impressive display saw just a point earned against struggling Bognor courtesy of a late Josh Scott equaliser.
With a three pronged attack comprising Josh Scott, Kieran Knight and Staforde Palmer, United started well and in just the second minute a throughball saw Palmer just fail to reach the ball as keeper Chris Tardif raced to clear. Just a couple of minutes later, Scott pulled the ball back to Knight, he missed the ball but it fell nicely to Will Hendry but his shot from the edge of the area was just wide of target.
The home side then started to move forwards themselves, having earned a corner, the ball was played to the far post where Nathan Lynch rose highest only to see his effort blocked on the United goalline by Ram Marwa who cleared at the second attempt. Within seconds the Rocks were on the move again when Jahson Downes made inroads from the right and fired across the face of Aaron Howe's goal and just wide of the far post.
Just over half of the first half had been played when the Rocks had the ball in the net. Downes this time worked inside from the left flank before curling a shot that Howe did well to touch onto the post before Lynch netted only to be denied by the flag being raised for offside. Minutes later United were awarded a free-kick just outside the Rocks area, dead centre of goal, Scott fired the ball through the wall only to see his effort superbly pushed away by Tardif.
Minutes later Louie Castles found the ever dangerous Downes who again tried his luck from distance, this time Howe made a diving catch to deny the diminutive Rocks striker.
Five minutes remained in the half when a United attack turned to disaster amid controversy. Steve Perkins made his way to the Bognor byeline before crossing to Knight at the far post, his header being comfortably caught by Tardif. The quick thinking Rocks keeper immediately threw the ball to Castles on the right, the winger was allowed to advance almost the full length of the pitch before being challenged as he attempted a cross, the linesman adjudging that Matt Ruby had handled the cross just inside the area despite it being thumped at him from close range and United's players protesting that it was outside the area anyway. All the protests did was earn cautions for Gary MacDonald and substitute Delroy Preddie, it was still a penalty kick. Sam Pearce stepped up and gave Howe no chance, firing home Julian Dicks style, from the spot.
United could have been level
six minutes into the second period, Hendry hit a free-kick past the defensive wall from the corner of the Rocks area but his effort was well palmed away by Tardif. The next fifteen minutes saw United pretty much on the back foot, staying within touching distance thanks to Howe in the United goal and two superb blocks by the centre-backs. A corner from the left side was partially punched clear by Howe and when the ball fell perfectly to Jack Smith only a defensive block by Matt Ruby kept the Rocks from going two ahead.
On the hour mark Howe was again called upon, this time to acrobatically tip over a 20 yard drive from Danny Smith that looked to be heading for the top corner of his net. Downes was next to test the United stopper when he cut inside from the left before unleashing a shot that Howe pushed around the post. With twenty minutes to play it was skipper Tom Cadmore to the rescue. Castles swept down the left before pulling the ball back to Danny Smith who hit a fierce shot that Cadmore touched wide of the post. The resultant corner caused more problems when it arrived at the feet of Downes at the far post, his curling effort just missing the top corner of Howe's goal.
In the 76th minute United themselves were denied a penalty, Knight burst into the Rocks area and appeared to be tripped by Duncan Jupp, the ball still fell nicely to Ram Marwa who should have done better than firing over the crossbar from 12 yards out.
Garry Haylock's last throw of the dice thankfully did the trick. With six minutes remaining he took off defender MacDonald and replaced him with striker Omari Coleman. Within seconds this had paid dividends as he controlled a long clearance before sending Scott through on goal, the striker coolly slotting the ball past Tardif's dive for his 14th of the season.
Just a minute remained when an already cautioned Hendry again tackled Rocks Patrick Cox from behind and for the second time this season the United playmaker saw red, leaving United's ten men to hang on for a point against a relegation threatened Bognor side.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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