Bognor fell to their first defeat in seven games as they succumbed 3-2 to a strong and keen Dulwich Hamlet side that exploited the wings to devastating effects at times.
It was second versus first at a cold Nyewood Lane and there were warnings for the Rocks from the start as Rhys Murrell-Williamson was straight on to the attack for Dulwich in the early stages. He passed to Nyren Clunis who smashed it first time, forcing Grant Smith into a save, and the rebound was cleared.
Matt Drage’s cross from the right had to be headed out by Harvey Whyte. Ashley Carew’s corner towards the near post was headed well wide.
Whyte won a corner for Bognor on the right on eight minutes. Ollie Pearce’s kick was headed out for another which found Sami El-Abd but his header was deflected for a third.
Following the third corner, James Crane found Craig Robson on the right and his cross fell to Jason Prior in the box but his shot was easily saved by Phil Wilson.
Danny Waldron and Clunis had shots blocked in quick succession for Dulwich.
At the other end, Chike Kandi’s chipped pass to an unmarked Prior saw the striker fail to control the ball.
Pearce fired over the bar from outside the box and then his curling effort from outside the area crashed off the crossbar.
Kandi won a free-kick on the right touchline and Pearce’s long, high delivery was well gathered by Wilson on 30 minutes.
Bognor took the lead on 32 minutes when Whyte latched on to a loose ball before firing a belter of a shot that flew in. It followed some good build-up play by Pearce on the right.
Dulwich held on for the three points to extend their lead over the Rocks to five points. But Bognor came away knowing they had given the visitors a battle.
Tuck swung a ball towards the back post on 37 minutes. Kandi was there but couldn’t divert the ball in from close range.
Dulwich deservedly got their equaliser on 38 minutes. Murrell-Williamson sped down the left, beating his marker before crossing low for Clunis, who made no mistake with a low finish.
Ryan Moss also posed a threat for Dulwich, but after winning the ball on the right his shot bounced wide and off for a throw in.
Moss struck well over the bar as the game restarted, then Pearce’s cross went straight to Wilson as Bognor tried to respond.
Soon Moss won a corner on the right. After he drove it across the area, the same player latched on to it in a goalmouth scramble and despite Smith thinking he had stopped it crossing the line, the referee awarded a goal on 49 minutes. Robson was shown a yellow card for disputing the decision.
Kandi’s curling cross found Crane on the back post but his header went into the ground and was easily saved by Wilson on 54 minutes.
Kandi should have scored on 58 minutes when he was gifted the ball by the goalkeeper. After squaring up and trying to chip Wilson from the edge of the box, his attempt was struck straight at him, much to the goalkeeper’s relief.
Crane’s cross was met by the grateful hands of Wilson on 61 minutes before Pearce won a corner which led to a low shot at goal being blocked.
Another Crane shot was blocked for a corner. Pearce took it and in the scramble, Crane’s shot was blocked by a defender and Wilson gathered the loose ball.
Dulwich went 3-1 up on 67 minutes. Quick attacking saw Clunis cut inside the box before firing the ball across the face of goal and it was Murrell-Williamson who smashed it into the net near the back post.
Alfie Rutherford replaced Tuck for Bognor and Jack Dixon replaced Moss for the visitors on 69 minutes.
Robson found Kandi, who turned before curling a left-footed shot wide.
Bognor pulled a goal back on 77 minutes. A cross from the left found Prior and his header was saved, but it bounced out to Snorre Nilsen who slammed it in near the back post.
As Bognor tried to reescue a point, Rutherford had a shot parried by Wilson and Crane on the follow-up hit the side netting when he thought he had won a corner but the referee said it was a goal-kick.
Nilsen hit a shot first time from a Crane cross on 81 minutes then with four minutes left, Robson was fouled just outside the area. Pearce curled the free-kick goalwards but the goalkeeper managed to get there before Prior.
Pearce’s curling effort was well stopped by Wilson on 89 minutes.
For Dulwich, Damian Scannell managed to win a free-kick right on the edge of the box. McDonald’s shot was gathered by Smith.
Despite Bognor’s efforts, Dulwich held on for the three points to extend their lead over the Rocks to five points. But Bognor came away knowing they had given the visitors a battle.
Bognor go to Merstham for a league game on Tuesday, then host Bath City in the FA Trophy next Saturday.
Bognor: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck (Rutherford 70), El-Abd, Robson, Pearce, Nilsen, Prior, Kandi, Field. Unused subs: Green, Wollers, Beck, Boughton.
Att - 770
by LIAM GOODLEY
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