Saints get bogged down
Nationwide Conference South Bognor Regis Town 2 St Albans City 1 FOLLOWING the dreadful injury to Scott Cousins and exit from the FA Trophy seven days ago, a disappointing week for the Saints was completed at Bognor Regis Town when City slumped to thei
Nationwide Conference South Bognor Regis Town 2 St Albans City 1 FOLLOWING the dreadful injury to Scott Cousins and exit from the FA Trophy seven days ago, a disappointing week for the Saints was completed at Bognor Regis Town when City slumped to their seventh League defeat of the season and slipped to third spot in the Conference South. Colin Lippiatt moved fast to find cover for the City left back with the signing of Lee Flynn from Dagenham and Redbridge for the second time this season, Flynn having covered Cousins' period of suspension late last year. The City manager also swooped to add 23-year-old Mark Nwokeji, leading scorer this term at Walton and Hersham of the Ryman Premier League, to the squad late on Friday. Dean Cracknell was absent with flu and Lippiatt selected Chris Seeby in the midfield role, with Patrick Ada in an unaccustomed right-back berth. The formation seemed disjointed from the start and the pair were forced to swap positions after 15 minutes in the face of a lively Bognor side, keen to play a fluid passing game and looking to exploit possible defensive weakness wide on either flank. The home side took the initiative early, with Richard Hudson proving the danger-man wide on the right. Early chances fell to The Rocks with crosses squandered by strikers Kevin Murphy and Ben Watson, the latter attracting attention from a number of Football League clubs in recent weeks. The travelling City faithful had to wait 21 minutes for the visitors first threat on the home goal, when Seeby and Lee Clarke combined well in midfield to release Simon Martin, who jinked past the remaining defender only to see his low drive deflected wide by 'keeper Craig Stoner. The opening goal came on 27 minutes when Ben Lewis was ruled to have brought down Ben Johnson in the area and Watson hit a powerful spot-kick high into the net to Paul Bastock's right. The goal spurred the home side and they took control for the remainder of the first period. On the half hour, a free kick was taken short to Darren Budd who unleashed a fierce drive from 25 yards which forced a fine save from Bastock high to his left. Bastock saved well from Watson and Budd again and, just as the visitors appeared to be weathering the storm, they conceded a dreadful second goal before the interval on 40 minutes. Centre back Nick Burton misjudged a long high ball in the area and the surprised Bastock, scrambling to recover, collided with the retreating defender to spill the ball to the feet of Watson who gleefully walked the ball into the empty net and notched his 18th goal of the season. Lippiatt rang the changes at the half-time break, bringing on Mark Burgess and Paul Hakim for Burton and Martin, but City could not find the rhythm and pace that had taken them to top of the League over recent weeks. Bognor Regis continued to play their own brand of football, creating chances and keeping Bastock the busier of the two custodians. As the half unfolded, the Saints were denied two penalty appeals, first when Charlie Balfe appeared to pull Clarke away from a shot-making opportunity and, moments later, when Murphy seemed to bundle Burgess to the ground in a clumsy challenge. City began to press late in the game as the home side tried to shut up shop and defend the two goal lead. Matt Hann, strangely subdued for much of the game, had chances, the first sliced high and wide, the second well saved by Stoner and the third, a wasted opportunity to lob the stranded 'keeper. But the winger created the Saints goal on 88 minutes when he took the ball at pace into the area to find Clarke who coolly drove home his 15th goal of the season. Nwokeji made his debut for the visitors and in the limited time available showed his fierce pace to cause problems in the Rocks' defence but it was too little and too late. Bognor Regis Town: C. Stoner, D. Piper, J. Rowland, D. Budd, C. Balfe, K. Murphy, B. Watson, D. Beck, R. Hudson, J. Howell, B. Johnson (D. Birmingham 57). Unused subs: S. Kirkwood, J. Janssen, C. Hunwick. St Albans City: P. Bastock, C. Seeby, L. Flynn, T. Davis, N. Burton (M. Burgess 46), B. Lewis, M. Hann, P. Ada, S. Martin (P. Hakim 46, M. Nwokeji 89), L. Clarke, B. Walshe. Unused subs: N. Roddis, M. Graham. Referee: K. Haines. Attendance: 402.