Saturday 18th September
Bognor Regis Town are among the favourites for promotion from Ryman League Division One South, and it is only two years since they were playing in Conference South. Their Sussex home is a well appointed ground with an excellent playing surface, and they attract crowds as large as any Chatham Town are likely to see this season. So there was no disgrace in Chatham Town’s 3-1 defeat on a sunny September day after making the longest away trip of the year.
Chatham Town had the first attack of the game, and soon forced Bognor goalkeeper Stoner to head his team out of trouble. But within a minute, the ball was at the other end and Chatham goalkeeper Adam Molloy had to make a fine save, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner. Stoner was in action again on 14 minutes when Nick Hegley’s cross found Gary Ward, and this time the goalkeeper punched his effort away.
Thereafter, Bognor began to dominate the game and took the lead with 19 minutes on the scoreboard. With their two front men having only the goalkeeper to beat, one passed across the goal to the other – Bognor’s leading scorer Jason Prior – who made no mistake. Bognor could have had more goals in the following quarter of an hour, but missed chances and a couple of good Molloy saves kept the score at 1-0.
On 36 minutes, careless Bognor defence from a throw in let Joe Fuller in and he won Chatham a corner, but Jon Hogg’s headed effort cleared the bar, and then on the stroke of half time Prior doubled the home team’s lead with a fine shot from the left of the penalty area.
Chatham looked very much brighter when the second half got under way, and Brad Potter and Matt Solly both went close in the first ten minutes. Then after 63 minutes, Chatham might perhaps have had a penalty; a Bognor defender appeared to handle a ball which was running out for a corner kick, but only the corner was awarded and the attack came to nothing. Even so, Chatham passed the ball around well in the second half, and it was rather against the run of play when substitute Nightingale put the ball past an unsighted Molloy to increase the home team’s lead to 3-0.
An Anthony Hogg shot after 83 minutes was comfortably saved by Stoner, but Chatham were not to be denied their consolation goal. Hegley played the ball through to substitute Uche Ibemere, recovered from a layoff through injury, who beat the offside trap and took several touches before blasting the ball into the net.
So ultimately a comfortable home win for Bognor, but they need to be careful of complacency against teams they expect to beat; at times they looked uncertain in defence and the goalkeeper let the players in front of him know about it. For Chatham Town it was a defeat, but plenty of signs of better things just around the corner.
Bognor Regis Town 3 (Prior 19, 45, Nightingale 75) Chatham Town 1 (Ibemere 84)
Team: Molloy, Potter (Watson 71), Laker, Solly, J Hogg, Hunt, A Hogg, Maskell (Ibemere 61), Fuller, Ward, Hegley. Subs not used: Restell, O’Shea, Mitchell.
Cautioned: A Hogg.
Referee: Mr M Taylor (Hampshire).
Chatham Town have no midweek fixture this week, and then Walton and Hersham are the visitors to Maidstone Road next Saturday.