Published 26th April 2011
...the moment. Prior’s Easter Monday Ryman League Division One South hat-trick followed a four-goal haul at Sittingbourne on Saturday and a treble against Walton & Hersham on the previous Saturday.
So that’s ten goals in three games for the marksman from Moneyfields, the Sydenhams Football League (Wessex) club from whom Rocks signed him last season.
Bognor report that it’s the first hat-trick of hat-tricks in the club’s 124-year history. It takes him to thirty-seven league goals, a four-goal lead in the race for the `golden boot`, and that will surely be enough.
On a quite fascinating day in Division One South, Bognor beat Worthing 3-1. After a somewhat edgy first half, Prior drilled home the first goal - Bognor’s 100th of the season - to settle some nerves 2 minutes after the break and headed his second 5 minutes later, missing a great chance in between. His third came at the end of a powerful solo run in the 83rd minute and he was then substituted to the acclaim of a crowd of 1,319, the first four-figure Division One assembly this season.
Dan White’s reply for Worthing 3 minutes into added time went almost unnoticed but it could be of considerable significance. Without it, there was a very real possibility that Bognor and Metropolitan Police could have finished the season tied for first place with identical goal records.
Now the Met will take the title if they win their last game at home to Merstham on Saturday and Bognor drop points at Chatham Town.
The Police were, in theory, top of the table at half-time when they were 2-0 up at Corinthian-Casuals and Bognor were only drawing,although Prior soon put that right.
The Met goals, an overhead kick by Craig Wilkins and a Ty Smith free-kick, were both outstanding. Wilkins struck again 3 minutes after the interval - the Met’s 100th - and James Greenaway quickly made it 4-0, which was how it finished.
The problem for the Met was that Bognor’s last game is away to a Chatham side who were condemned to relegation on Monday, or so it seemed. Trailing 2-0 at half-time at Eastbourne Town, and still 2-1 down going into the 90th minute, they somehow emerged with a 3-2 victory thanks to Kane Rice and Kevin Watson. Charlie Ticehurst had pulled the first one back in the 55th minute.
So, instead of facing a dispirited and relegated side, Bognor will be facing a Chatham team enlivened by a six-point weekend when all seemed lost.
Chats will escape if they win and either Whyteleafe lose at home to Horsham YMCA or Corinthian-Casuals are beaten at Whitstable.
Leafe need one point to be safe; for Casuals it’s more complicated. Suffice it to say that if they draw 0-0 and Chatham win 2-1, their records will be absolutely identical.
Leatherhead are the only team in the top four not to have 100 goals. Tommy Hutchings struck after 19 minutes to give them a 1-0 win over Burgess Hill Town and leave them stranded on ninety-nine.
Whitehawk, meanwhile, were held to a 2-2 draw at bottom club Horsham YMCA. Matt Hurley gave Hawks the lead shortly before the interval but two goals in 5 minutes midway through the second half from Danny Dudley and Marc Cumberbatch put YM in front. Then Sam Gargan squared it.
The two dropped points do not affect Whitehawk’s position. They still need to win when they entertain Leatherhead on Saturday to capture home advantage when the sides clash again in the play-off semi-finals. Any other result, and the match will be at Leatherhead.
The battle for the final play-off place will provide yet another source of intrigue on Saturday. Burgess Hill’s defeat evicted them from fifth place, with both Dulwich Hamlet and Walton & Hersham moving above them. Dulwich are fifth on goal difference.
Dulwich beat Whyteleafe with a lone 31st minute goal by Gary Drewett, while Walton were 3-1 winners at their neighbouring Casuals. Kieran Knight scored twice in the first half-hour, Luke Evans pulled one back before the interval and Gary Frewen clinched it for Swans 10 minutes after the restart.
So the stage is set for a showdown at Walton & Hersham on Saturday, where Dulwich are the visitors. It’s winner-take-all, and although Dulwich would retain their advantage over their hosts with a draw, such an outcome would be a potential lifeline to Burgess Hill, who could then reclaim fifth spot with a home victory over Ramsgate.
The Rams were the other contenders at kick-off time but are now out of the picture after a 1-0 home defeat by Whitstable. Almost inevitably, Ian Pulman got the goal, his twenty-eighth of the season, though he had to wait until added time.
There were three games with nothing except local pride at stake and two of them produced crushing away wins. Chipstead hit four unanswered goals at Merstham and Fleet Town went one better with a 5-0 triumph at Godalming Town. Sittingbiourne were beaten 3-1 at Faversham Town.