A VERY Bad Day At The Office For The Rocks.
By David Seabourne
Serious Injury To Bognor Goalkeeper Dan Lincoln.
A serious injury to Rocks keeper Dan Lincoln overshadowed the action as Bognor lost 2-0 at home to Truro.
The goalie was hurt as he tried to prevent what proved the winning goal and needed lengthy attention for an apparent spinal problem.
An ambulance was called while stewards and club medics attended to Lincoln and made sure he was well wrapped up on a cold afternoon.
After a delay of more than half an hour, Lincoln was carefully lifted on to a spinal board and taken to hospital by ambulance.
Many thought the game could have been abandoned because of the length of the hold-up but the officials persevered and the players came back out to play the final 10 minutes.
The action and the result didn't seem to matter to anyone after the injury to Lincoln.
At the start of the afternoon, the Rocks went into the game not having won a league game in front of their own fans since August 15, and with only one National League South victory since that first month of the season.
They handed a debut to new stirker Stefan Ljubicic, an Icelandic under-19 international recruited from Brighton's academy, while Ben Swallow was back in the squad after injury but had to settle for a place on the bench.
Truro arrived in the thick of the play-off race, in seventh place.
It was a fairly bright start to the game by Jack Pearce's men as they played the ball around briskly and had the better of the early possession.
The first chance to look for the head of Ljubicic from a set-piece was wasted when a short corner failed to end in a cross into the box.
There was a lengthy hold-up while Truro midfielder Noah Keats was treated for an injury sustained in an innocuous challenge by Jimmy Muitt.
Keaton Wood was booked for a heavy tackle on Cody Cooke, while the injured Keats was forced to hobble off, replaced by Aaron Lamont.
A nice spell of pressure by Bognor ended in crosses from the right by first Dan Beck then Calvin Davies being cleared.
On the whole neither side looked particularly threatening in the final third, with the two keepers both onlookers.
Manny Adebowale's hesitation in dealing with a Truro through-ball almost cost Bognor as Tyler Harvey pounced and fired a 25-yard shot off the top of the bar, with Lincoln beaten.
Ed Palmer's header from Connor Riley-Lowe's left-sided cross was only just wide as Truro enjoyed their best spell of the game to date.
Ljubicic and Ibra Sekajja combined to set up Davies for a rocket but it was deflected for a right-sided corner on 35 minutes.
It eventually fell to Ljubicic but his overhead attempt was well wide.
Within a minute Muitt woke the crowd up with a dribble and a shot that wasn't too far wide of keeper Tom McHale's post.
A half-chance for Harvey flew wide with Lincoln not troubled after Truro were given a free-kick for a player falling over his own feet.
Palmer was booked for halting Ljubicic in a move in which the Rocks were allowed to play but Richard Gilot was crowded out after getting to the byline.
The Rocks handed possession to Truro and the west-country side almost made them pay but Cooke headed his diving header wide.
Soon Harvey got his end on a Ben Harding cross but directed it wide.
As Truro continued to build the pressure Harding curled a shot at goal that Lincoln had to dive full length to push away.
The first shot on goal after the restart came from Cooke but it struck a defender and went out for a corner.
Bognor were struggling to find any fluency and when they did get hold of the ball, they were giving it away far too easily.
One gift of possession by Muitt led to Harvey having sight of goal but Lincoln got behind his shot.
Palmer was over-ambitious with a 30-yard shot that flew well wide.
The Rocks' task got a whole lot harder on 64 minutes when Ljubicic's promising and hard-working debut ended early when he was red-carded for an illegal challenge that left defender Jamie Richards pole-axed.
That's likely to bring him a three-game ban - the last thing the Rocks need in their perilous position.
Truro responded to gaining a man advantage by doing most of the pressing - as you'd expect - and Cooke was close with a header that beat Lincoln but went a couple of feet wide.
Ben Swallow replaced Sekajja with a quarter of an hour to go. Then Truro were reduceed to ten men when Palmer was shown a second yellow for a cynical foul on Muitt as he galloped down the right.
That lifted the crowd and the Rocks and Swallow was sent clear for a run down the right that ended in him cutting in and firing a low shot just wide of McHale's near post.
But it was Truro who edged in front with 11 minutes to go - with Rocks keeper Lincoln getting injured in the process.
A low ball in from the right saw Truro defender Ben Gerring slide in to poke the ball goalwards, and Davies' clearance was deemed to have come after the ball had crossed the line.
Lincoln stayed down, and it soon became evident he had suffered some kind of spinal injury.
Stewards and club medics attended to him and made sure he was well covered up, while not wanting to move him before specialist medical help arrived.
Eventually an ambulance did arrive and after another wait while paramedics assessed him and moved him on to a spinal board, the players came out to warm up for the final ten minutes to be played.
When play did finally resume at 5.35pm sub Swallow was sent through on goal down the left but hesitated and Truro cleared.
Charman, brought on in goal in place of Lincoln, then showed his prowess between the sticks with a superb low save to keep out sub Andrew Neil's header.
Another sub Lamont ran through with only Charman to beat but was thwarted by another terrific save by the stand-in.
The Rocks certainly had their tails up after ther resumption, desperate to salvage a point, but Truro sub Neil clinched it for Truro when he got away down the left, rounded Charman and stroked the ball into the empty net.
Muitt was booked for a late tackle as the Rocks' frustrations were completed.
An afternoon to forget - and certainly one when the result didn't really seem to matter as fans went home hoping the news on Lincoln's injury proves not to be as serious as it looked.
Report Courtesy of the Bognor Regis Observer.