Bognor took a point from their visit to third-placed Needham Market as the Ryman premier promotion race moved up a gear.
The Rocks led twice but can be reasonably pleased with a result away to one of their main rivals, altohugh second-placed Havant’s win over Merstham means Jamie Howell’s men now lead the pack by just two points.
Bognor took on Needham Market at Bloomfields on a rather bumpy playing surface and in adverse weather conditions.
Dan Beck was absent through illness and Gary Charman took his place. Dylan Barnett was welcomed back into the side after missing the county cup semi-loss to Crawley in midweek because he was cup-tied.
Dan Lincoln completely missed an early corner as Needham started well. Then a long ball along the turf picked out John Sands who beat his marker before running on and scuffing his shot well wide.
Luke Ingram latched on to a left-sided cross but he couldn’t direct his header towards goal.
Bognor’s first half chance came on ten minutes when Chad Field’s good defending resulted in him playing a long ball forward. Ollie Pearce won the ball and cut inside the box, but he couldn’t finish.
Cameron Norman struck one from long distance for Needham. It was rather ambitious on 17 minutes and flew wide.
Jake Dye skied another chance shortly after – then Charlie Moone tried a through-pass for Pearce but keeper Danny Gay gathered it.
But Bognor scored the opener on 22 minutes. A neat overlap by James Crane saw him combine with Dylan Barnett down the left. The Rocks took the lead when James Crane’s cross picked out the leaping Charman, who directed his header neatly low into the bottom corner.
Crane swung in another cross but it was headed out for a corner. Barnett’s dipping cross had to be punched away by Gay on 25 minutes.
Aa cross on the left saw the ball fall to Charman who blasted wide.
A long throw by Charman bounced out to Barnett, who smashed it on the rise. The ball only just flew wide.
Reece Dobson tried his luck with a looping attempt over his shoulder on 31 minutes but Lincoln saw it to safety. But the hosts equalised when Ingram headed in a cross by Jack Simmons on 35 minutes.
On 37 minutes Bognor went back in front. Pearce’s left-sided free-kick dipped into the crowded box and from the scramble it was Sami El-Abd who poked it in from close range.
On 41 minutes, Charman went into the book for a foul in the midfield.
Dobson knocked another attempt high and wide following an El-Abd defensive header from a right-sided cross on 43 minutes.
But there was a wonderful second equaliser for Needham on 44 minutes as Kem Izzet shot high into the net from outside the box, an unstoppable goal.
Moone’s left-sided cross bounced to Crane, who had a shot , then El-Abd’s headed flick was caught by the goalkeeper. This ended an exciting half of football in a brisk wind and steady rain.
James Fraser’s chipped pass found Pearce and his shot drew a good save from Gay on 48 minutes.
Harvey Whyte won a free-kick on the right. Barnett’s ball into the box was only just cleared and Barnett’s follow-up was saved by Gay.
Dye smashed a right-sided cross out of touch on 57 minutes with Simmons lurking at the back post. On 66 minutes Darryl Coakley’s floated cross was well-gathered by Lincoln.
Pearce’s cross into the box fell to Whyte, who chipped in towards Fraser. He headed it back inside but it was cleared.
Barnett sent in a couple of corners that came to nothing before Dobson ran on to a long pass down the left. His pass back inside to Simmons saw him curl his effort well wide on 74 minutes.
Ingram’s direct free-kick was stopped by Lincoln on 77 minutes.
Whyte was replaced by Calvin Davies, and then Charman won the ball in the opponents’ half before going on to shoot but he struck it well wide.
Jimmy Muitt replaced Moone on 81 minutes.
Pearce’s forward and curling free-kick flew over El-Abd, and Fraser’s chance at the back post was stopped by an offside flag on 85 minutes.
Ingram saw a chance bounce wide of the post in stoppage time and then Coakley blasted over.
Next, the Rocks host Leatherhead at Nyewood Lane on Saturday.
Needham: Gay, Dye, Coakley, Norman, Morphew, Nunn, Ingram, Izzet, Dobson, Sands, Simmons. Subs: Miller, Holland, Clark, Whight, Munson
Rocks: Lincoln, Whyte (Davies 77), Crane (c), Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Fraser, Charman, Moone (Muitt 81), Pearce, Barnett. Sub Not Used: Budd.
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