KANE WILLS came back to hurt the Rocks in a disappointing final game of the season at Nyewood Lane.
The former Bognor skipper volleyed in the only goal of a poor game before the break to see the Rocks’ campaign end on a low point and put his new team in good heart for their play-off semi-final showdown against Dulwich Hamlet.
The game meant little in itself to either team. Bognor began the afternoon 14th and knowing the highest they could finish the campaign was 13th,while Margate are assured of finishing third, which will give them a home play-off.
Jason Prior was unable to play in the clash of his parent club and the one he has spent much of this season on loan at. Rocks fans are waiting to see if there is any possibility of him returning to the Lane next season.
One familiar face in the Margate team was Wills, who joined the Kent team a year ago after several seasons of great service at Bognor.
The first shot of note came in the third minute from Margate full-back Sam Rents, but his effort from the edge of the area after a half-cleared corner by blocked by a white-socked leg.
Lewis Taylor was allowed a free run down the right in the seventh minute and his ball into the box was deflected behind by Dan Sackman when he’d like to have found a Margate team-mate.
Margate were forced into an early change when Zac Attwood was helped off after suffering an apparent Achilles injury. Charlie Allen replaced him.
The Rocks’ first worthwhile attack, on 11 minutes, saw Ollie Pearce work free down the right and look for Charlie Oatway, but a defender beat him in the air at the far post.
Jake Thomson burst into the box to seize on a loose ball on 18 minutes but the keeper was quickly out to thwart him.
Green was named MoM - the latest of many such awards this season - after another busy afternoon on the right.
The game had a very pedestrian feel to it - not surprising given there was absolutely nothing riding on it for either team.
There were some ‘ooohs’ from the men in the crowd when Margate centre-back Charlie Wassmer took the full force of a Rocks shot in a sensitive area on 22 minutes.
Thomson tried a long-range shot but it drifted wide of Nikki Bull’s post.
Chris Winterton’s first serious save of the afternoon came when he blocked a Ryan Moss shot with his legs from close range just before the half-hour. Then Tom Phipp was allowed a free header from a long throw but sent it spinning well over the bar.
Bognor were close to a lead on 33 minutes when Sackman just failed to connect with a curling free-kick across the face of goal.
Wills broke the deadlock on 36 minutes with a great finish - volleying home with his wrong foot when a cross by Allen fell to him at the far post.
Taylor sent a shot well wide five minutes before the break as Margate looked the more likely to score the next goal.
Anthony Riviere replaced Phipp for Margate at the start of the second half.
A couple of minutes in, Daryl Wollers replaced James Crane for the Rocks.
There was a fairly low-key start to the second half and it was eight minutes old before Dodd almost got in behind the visiting defence, but he was crowded out. At the other end Taubeson Eyoung surged forward from right-back but shot wide.
As the Rocks tried to get back into it, Rents were booked for a late foul on Stuart Green as he tried to get away down the right flank.
The yellow-card count was quickly evened up when Craig Robson was booked for a challenge on keeper Bull as they went for a high free-kick.
A second Rocks change was a double one - Callum Overton and Lloyd Rowlatt coming on for Dodd and Thomson.
Pearce’s teasing free-kick into the danger zone was almost met by Green, but he couldn’t get his angles right.
Overton ought to have made it 1-1 on 75 minutes but he glanced a header wide from a lovely cross by Snorre Nilsen with the goal gaping. Rowlatt was lurking at the far post but couldn’t get near the loose ball as it bounced away for a goal kick.
The Rocks kept on pressing and Margate were having a lacklustre second half. But the home side were rarely testing the keeper, for all their possession in the middle third of the pitch.
With six minutes left, Ryan James was booked for bringing down Oatway as he advanced towards the box. He took the free-kick himself and curled it nicely round the wall, but Bull got down to save it.
Green was named MoM - the latest of many such awards this season - after another busy afternoon on the right. But even he couldn’t save Bognor from a last-day defeat.
The players went to the fans at the end of the game to applaud them for their support throughout the season, and received warm applause in response - as seen in our video, above.
Rocks: Winterton, Nilsen, Crane, Oatway, Sackman, Robson, Green, Thomson, Dodd, Pearce, Field. Subs: Overton, Lawson, Wollers, Rowlatt.
Margate: Bull, Eyoung, Rents, James, Wassmer, Johnson, Taylor, @KaneWills8, Moss, Attwood, Phipp. Subs: Allen, Beale, Bennett, Gerring, Riviere.
Ref: Jonathan Hollier (Basingstoke)