Rocks return to the Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium
On Saturday 23rd November we welcome back an old friend from the Isthmian Premier Division, and in Bognor Regis Town we face the in-form side in the division. They may have started the week in eighth place in the table but they have won their last eight games in all competitions, five in the league, two in the FA Trophy and one in the Sussex Senior Cup.
To get this far in the Trophy, Bognor have won away to Uxbridge of the Isthmian League South Central league and then a fortnight ago they beat East Thurrock United from their own division.
In the league they've won eight, drawn one and lost six. They've won five away games, 5-0 at Wingate and FInchley in August, and then four times since mid-October at Folkestone Invicta, Kingstonian, Bowers and Pitsea and perhaps their finest game of the season, a thumping 6-1 win at Margate. They'll be looking for their third win in Kent this season today.
Bognor Regis have a strong recent FA Trophy pedigree but nobody can have expected them to go as far as the semi-final four seasons ago. As a step three side they beat East Grinstead, Taunton and Bath CIty in qualifying they then dispatched Maidstone, Altrincham, Sutton and Torquay to set up a semi final with Grimsby Town. They narrowly lost 1-0 at home and 2-1 at Blundell Park but up until 12 minutes from the end of the second leg there was only one goal in it, but it was Grimsby who went through to Wembley where they lost to Halifax. It was a total of ten matches in the competition in the season, one of the most FA Trophy games anyone has ever played in a single season.
This is their second season in the Isthmian Premier Division having been relegated after just one season in National League South. For much of last season they looked more likely than us to reach the play-offs but they faded away and finished in the bottom half of the table.
The only other time the two clubs have met in the FA Trophy was in the first qualifying round in 1985 when Bognor came out 3-0 winners here at Longmead. (Cooper 2 and Clements with the goals). The 25 games between the clubs have seen us win eight times, lose thirteen and draw four.
Last season in the Isthmian Premier Division we each won the respective away games. At Longmead in October Bognor won 2-1. Lethbridge gave Bognor a second half lead, Alex Read equalised with 19 minutes to go only for Mason Walsh to strike a last minute winner.
Then on a snowy day in West Sussex in January, we won 3-2. Jack Parter scored with a cross after 24 seconds for the Angels, Bognor scored two in three minutes through Lethbridge and Muitt but Alex Read scored his last goal for us to make it 2-2 before half-time. Tonbridge then won the game with a generous Joe Turner penalty after a foul on Sonny Miles. The win put us in the play-off zone and we never looked back.