Leiston suffer defeat in final home game of season

Bognor captain Jason Prior powers a header towards the Leiston goal

Bognor captain Jason Prior powers a header towards the Leiston goal - Credit: Archant

The curtain came down on Leiston’s home fixtures in their fourth season in the Ryman League Premier Division but it is unlikely they will be facing visitors Bognor Regis Town for a while after this display, the stand-out visiting performers over the season.

Blake Saker (No 2) has Leiston's only shot on target

Blake Saker (No 2) has Leiston's only shot on target - Credit: Archant

The Rocks dominated proceedings from the outset as the hosts endured a difficult afternoon at a damp Victory Road, slipping to a fifth home defeat of the season.

The home ground staff and volunteers had done a sterling job in ensuring the game went ahead after the heavy rain and a healthy crowd witnessed a contest mainly dictated by the visitors.

Two goals in as many minutes early in the second-half saw Bognor take the points back to Sussex, keeping their title aspirations in check with just two games remaining.

Richard Wilkins’ side looked to have contained their slick opponents with a solid rear guard first-half display but all their good work was undone with two carbon copy goals at the start of the second period.

Leiston supporters' player of the year Ashlee Jones punches clear

Leiston supporters' player of the year Ashlee Jones punches clear - Credit: Archant

Bognor were soon into their stride with Alfie Rutherford forcing Ashlee Jones into an early save.

Bognor’s leading scorer Jason Prior, with 37 goals to his name, planted a free header from a Dan Beck corner straight at Jones and then he saw a sweet strike after a well worked move go agonisingly wide of the upright, as the pressure on the home goal intensified.

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Leiston’s response was limited, although some great defending from Sami El-Abd and then Chad Field denied Jack Baker a clear sight of goal from a Christy Finch centre, the hosts’ best opening after half an hour. Play resumed in the home final third and Doug Tuck was next to try his luck, his 25-yard effort flashing inches wide with Jones at full stretch to ensure it didn’t find his net.

It took just four minutes into the second-half for Bognor to take the lead. Connor Tighe sweeping home at the far post after Rutherford had benefited from a slip by Blake Saker down the home right flank before crossing low across the box for Tighe.

Two minutes later almost a carbon copy of the first with Saker again slipping on the halfway line with Prior onto the loose ball, racing clear down the right and turning provider for Rutherford to confidently beat Jones. The woodwork then twice came to Leiston’s rescue with Rutherford’s blistering shot skimming the top of the bar after disposing Tom Bullard, and then Stuart Green saw a header smack against the post from close-range after Saker and Jones had misjudged a hanging centre from Rutherford.

The hosts, who were second best for most of the afternoon, rallied late on. Grant Smith did well to smother a stinging, defected shot from Saker and then Heath had a goal chalked off by the assistant’s flag, Jake Taylor’s header from a Christy Finch cross striking the Leiston midfielder as he ran into the box with the ball rolling beyond Smith in the Bognor goal from an offside position. It mattered little as Bognor celebrated in front of their away support.

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