Tomlinson shows strikers how it's done but Bognor allow Lewes to take point
Joe Tomlinson's first two Bognor goals earned the Rocks a point in a pulsating Boxing Day Sussex derby at Nyewood Lane '“ but the hosts had mixed feelings about the result.
They trailed 1-0 after a below-par first half but went 2-1 up after the Rooks had been reduced to ten men when Dayshonne Golding saw red for kicking out at a Bognor player.
But ex-Pagham and Horsham midfielder Kieron Pamment pounced for an equaliser to leave Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake's team having to settle for one point instead of three.
It gives Bognor a return of four points from six from their two Christmas-week games – something most would have settled for beforehand. They're tenth in the Bostik premier table going into the new year, which they start with a January 1 visit to Whitehawk.
Bognor made a bright start and forced the early pace, with Mason Walsh marking his late call into the starting line-up in place of Gary Charman – who flt a groin problem in the warm-up - with a shot that went high and wide after he cut in from the left. Lewes had a dangerous early attack of their own but Bognor got back in numbers to thwart the visitors.
The Rocks robbed Lewes of possession in the ninth minute and Walsh played in Jimmy Muitt, whose low effort from the edge of the box took a slight deflection and went narrowly wide. The corner ended up with Brad Lethbridge but his shot from 25 yards was ambitious.
Lewes took an 11th-minute lead in fortunate circumstances as a move down the left led by Michael Demi-Bonwin ended in Golding hitting a shot wildly off-target – but it struck Theo Widdrington and flew past Dan Lincoln. That seemed to draw the confidence out of the home team for a while but on 19 minutes Lethbridge curled a perfect ball into the box for Dan Smith, whose firm header was well kept out by keeper Lewis Carey.
Muitt's trickery played Smith in on goal but he was denied from short range by Carey. Lewes threatened a second with an attack on 25 minutes that required some desperate defending – a passage of play that ended with Muitt limping after a block tackle. Omarr Lawson got away from Chad Field and had only Lincoln to get past but Harvey Whyte saved the day with a well-timed tackle.
There was an odd moment on 33 minutes when Widdrington's well-struck free-kick was struck clear by Carey with his forearm - a move that wouldn't have been out of place on the volleyball court. A quick move down the right gave Muitt an opening and although his shot was cleanly hit it went across the face of goal and wide.
A goalbound Lewes shot hit one of their own players just in front of the goal-line to leave the Rocks breathing a sigh of relief shortly before the break.
Harry Reed replaced Demi-Bonwin after the break and Lewes had an early second-half opportunity but Stacey Freeman curled a shot over the crossbar.
Bognor started pressing again and Lethbridge surged into the box and saw his ball across the face of goal half-cleared, before Muitt followed up with a shot that was blocked.
Ten minutes into the second half Lewes had Golding sent off for a challenge to which the linesmen alerted the referee.
There was a hold-up when Lewes forward Jonte Smith needed treatment. Ed Sanders went into the book for fouling his man 25 yards from goal and James Hammond sent the free-kick only just wide of Lincoln's right-hand post.
Widdrington sent a long-range free-kick inches wide as Bognor tried to make use of the one-man advantage. But on 68 minutes the Rocks got the equaliser most would have felt they deserved.
Widdrington had the ball 30 yards out and played a clever ball into the box, where the unlikely figure of Tomlinson took a touch and smashed the ball into the roof of the net past the advancing Carey. He was mobbed by team-mates as he celebrated his first Bognor goal with fans in front of the clubhouse.
That gave the hosts an extra spring in their step. Whyte's cross should have been put away by Smith at the near post but a defender hacked it away, then Walsh burst through only to be crowded out.
All the momentum was with the Rocks and they took the lead just six minutes after the equaliser – and it was Tomlinson again who lashed a fine finish past Carey, this time with his left boot, after Smith cleverly chested Lethbridge's cross into his path.
Just as it looked like the Rocks might go on to win with a bit to spare Lewes levelled from nowhere as Pamment converted from close in.
Bognor attacked again but Smith mis-hit a close-range effort into the ground from a Muitt cross. Tommy Scutt replaced Walsh on 84 minutes.
There was more drama a minute later when Sanders was sent off after picking up a second yellow when Jonte Smith raced through in a Lewes counter attack. From the free-kick Lews forced a goalmouth scramble from which one effort struck Lincoln's bar, but Bognor cleared.
Still Bognor kept pressing for the winner. Lethbridge was crowded out as he tried to shoot – then Smith glanced a header wide.
Tomlinson was named man of the match, hardly surprising after his double.
Lewes striker Smith enraged the home players and fans by faking an injury when pretending Whyte had trodden on him in a scuffle - it was clear to those watching that no such thing had happened. The home crowd didn't get their wish to see him booked for unsporting behaviour.
A stoppage-time foul on Whyte a yard outside the area gave Bognor one last chance to win but Tomlinson, eyeing a hat-trick, sent it over the bar.
Captain Frankie Chappell earned another Lewes yellow card and Henri Wilder followed him into the book for a foul on Muitt. The free-kick was sent into the box by Widdrington but when a Rocks header was claimed by Carey, it proved the last action and both sides had to settle for a point.
Rocks: Lincoln, Sanders, Tomlinson, Tuck, Field, Whyte, Widdrington, Smith, Muitt, Lethbridge, Walsh. Subs: Scutt, Wild, Osborne.
Lewes: Carey, Day, Wilder, Demi-Bonwin, Chappell, Freeman, Pamment, Hammond, Smith, Lawson, Golding. Subs: Wilson, Reed, Elliott, Blewdon, Redwood.
Ref: James Robinson