Rocks outfox Oxford in FA Cup fightback

Alex Parsons scored twice after coming on as sub / Picture by Tim Hale
Alex Parsons scored twice after coming on as sub / Picture by Tim Hale

A stunning second-half comeback kept the Rocks’ FA Cup dream alive - and it was supersub Alex Parsons who turned the tie on its head.

Oxford City, who are second in the National League South, couldn’t cope with the Rocks’ attacking threat that turned a 2-1 deficit with 18 minutes left into a superb 4-2 win.

Parsons scored twice in three minutes to give Bognor the lead after coming on for Alfie Rutherford ten minutes earlier and Jason Prior - who had earlier scored from the spot - made the Rocks’ place in the fourth qualifying round safe with the fourth in front of a jubliant crowd of 515.

It puts Bognor into the final qualifying round for the first time since 2004 and puts them one game from the first round proper, which they have not reached since 1995.

Craig Robson was missing from the line-up through suspension but Doug Tuck was back in the starting XI.

An early forward ball by Harvey Whyte was just too strong for Alfie Rutherford on the run and rolled out of play.

It puts Bognor into the final qualifying round for the first time since 2004 and puts them one game from the first round proper, which they have not reached since 1995.

Ollie Pearce’s good work down the left almost teed up Tuck and then Prior but it was deflected away for a corner. Then Tuck fired over - with both teams looking lively.

Kynan Isaac teed up Reece Fleet, who fired instantly at goal on six minutes, forcing Grant Smith into a decent save, tipping the ball around the post.

A long ball split the defence and found Fleet but Smith was equal to it for the second time, low to his right.

Oxford took the lead on 13 minutes when a low cross by Bubb was inadvertently diverted into the net by Sami El-Abd - despite Smith’s efforts, he couldn’t stop the ball rolling into the net.

Prior fired a shot off target as Bognor tried to respond.

Rutherford won the ball on the edge of the area before firing the ball across the box, then Whyte was fouled just outside the box. A quick free-kick by Dan Beck saw Prior tripped but the referee made Bognor retake the free kick and the second effort was cleared.

Beck’s forward ball found Rutherford and the forward whipped in a cross, but it was well stopped by Laurie Walker.

At the other end Isaac’s low cross was diverted wide by a sliding El-Abd on 24 minutes.

Whyte went in the book for a sliding challenge on Isaac 26 minutes. Soon Ander Del-Alamo fed Luke Coulson, who fired high and wide.

Rutherford hit the ball hard from an acute angle on the by-line but the attempt whizzed the wrong side of the post on 39 minutes.

On 41 minutes, Tuck was fouled in the area. Up stepped Prior to strike the penalty high into the net, despite Walker getting his fingers to it.

Just before the break, a debatable free kick was awarded to Oxford outside the box. Arzamendi’s kick found José Lapoujade on the back post and he beat Whyte in the air to head in.

HT 1-2

Good work by Whyte on the right set up Pearce to cross and his ball in hit the top of the net and went out for a goal kick.

On the counter attack, Bognor skipper Prior scooped the ball over a defender for Pearce on the back post but his header was cleared by Adrian Santiago.

Beck received a yellow card for a challenge on Lapoujade near the halfway line on 57 minutes as frustrations grew for the hosts.

Pearce’s attacking run was cut short as the linesman had his flag up for another offside.

A double substitution saw Omari Sterling-James and Julien Lafuente came on for Del-Alamo and Pond on for the visitors on 60 minutes.

Rutherford’s cross was too much for Prior or any other Bognor player advancing into the penalty area on 62 minutes.

The Rocks made a sub on 63 minutes when a hard-working Rutherford was taken off for Parsons - and what an inspired change it proved to be.

The home side had the ball in the net from a header by Prior followed up by Crane but the goal was disallowed for offside on 64 minutes.

A nasty low cross by David King had to be cleared by El-Abd before Bubb was shown a yellow card for dissent.

Beck’s cross from the left was cut out by Walker as Bognor continued to create chances.

Parsons’ cross was straight at Walker moments later after good work down the right wing.

But Bognor levelled on 72 minutes. Parsons sped through the middle after an appeal by Crane for a foul went unnoticed and shot low into the bottom corner.

It got better for Bognor as they took the lead on 75 minutes when another inspired run saw Parsons do well to tee himself up, again shooting low and into the corner.

Connor McDonough replaced Santiago on 76 minutes for Oxford.

Fleet received a yellow card for blocking the ball with his hand on 80 minutes.

McDonough had a shot deflected narrowly wide of the right post as Oxford tried to get back into it.

But Bognor made sure of a famous win on 85 minutes when a ball down the left saw Prior beat his marker before running on and slotting low into the net, sparking jubilation from the Bognor support at Nyewood Lane.

King was booked late on after kicking the ball away following a foul throw - and that somehow summed up a frustrating afternoon for City.

So Bognor are one game from the first round proper and they will find out on Monday who will stand in their way. The next round takes place on Saturday, October 24.

The Rocks return to league action on Tuesday night when they host Farnborough.

Bognor: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck (Charman 87), El-Abd, Field, Rutherford (Parsons 63), Beck, Prior, Pearce, Nilsen. Subs: Charman, Wollers, Rowlatt, Horncastle, Parsons, Boughton.


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