With the prize of reaching the First Round Proper at stake, Tony Incenzo and Adrian Clarke had the unenviable task of matching all the remaining sides together in the Fourth Qualifying Round, chaired by Adrian Chiles on TalkSPORT 2 at 1pm on Monday 2nd October. After having to wait for the North section to be completed before the South was drawn, City’s number was pulled out in the sixth tie. For the second round running, they were drawn as the home side, and once the opponents had been revealed, it quickly became clear that there was a chance for revenge as our FA Cup conquerors from two seasons ago Bognor Regis Town were to visit Marsh Lane.
That was the only time the sides had ever met before and it was at Bognor’s Nyewood Lane, where The Rocks triumphed 4-2, coming back from behind twice on their own patch to beat higher league City.
Incredibly the two teams were due to be matching up in the Sussex town that weekend in the National League South. This match was eventually played a few weeks later on a November Tuesday evening as the two sides shared the points in a goalless draw.
Both teams were struggling at the time in the league and were sharing two of the three relegation spots along with Whitehawk. When match day came around on October 14th, neither side had picked up a win in the league since August 15th, however both had picked up two cup wins to reach this stage.
In the two weeks after the Third Qualifying Round, Mark Jones was starting to get his full squad available again and was able to go into the game without having to ask for help from the Nomads squad, as he did in the previous round.
Bognor Regis started the better of the two sides and forced an excellent saving tackle from Eddie Jones on 6 minutes to keep the scores level. Jack Stevens then had his blushes spared on 19 minutes as he spilled the ball from a cross. The ball fell to Jimmy Muitt who could only blaze over the bar.
City then grew into the game and Ezra Forde was the first to force a save out of Dan Lincoln with a pacey break. Lincoln spilled the ball, however the speed of the break meant that City no support was able to arrive to tuck away.
Forde then turned to provider as he teed Godfrey Poku up from 12 yards, however the latter’s shot was unable to test The Rocks’ ‘keeper.
The deadlock was broken in the 31st minute, in spectacular fashion. Dave Pearce, linking up with Forde, made a characteristic charge down the left and crossed in low to Matt Paterson, whose first time shot on the volley expertly just evaded Lincoln and nestled into the roof of the net.
He was offered a much simpler chance right on the stroke of half time, as he was bought down in the box. He stepped up to take the penalty that was awarded himself, however his shot from 12 yards beat the post.
The Hoops came out of the blocks well in the second half and were looking to force a second goal that would all but seal the game. A few saves were forced from Dan Lincoln early in the half before The Rocks had a spell to try and force an equaliser. The closest they got was an effort that hit the side netting.
Their task got even harder in the 77th minute as they were reduced to 10 men. Calvin Davies was dismissed for a second bookable offence for a heavy challenge on David Pearce.
The Hoops saw out the remaining time to progress to the First Round Proper for the first time since 2011. A long Monday awaited for City, having to wait until 7pm for the draw, with the potential of drawing a Football League side.
Updated 22:38 - 29 Nov 2017 by Oxford City FC