No goals - but plenty of entertainment as Rocks are held

Bognor's Harvey Whyte / Picture by Chris Hatton
Bognor's Harvey Whyte / Picture by Chris Hatton

An absorbing tussle between two of the Ryman premier division’s form teams ended with honours even in an entertaining 0-0 draw at Nyewood Lane

The Rocks went into the game on the back of five wins in their past six but visitors Kingstonian were also on an excellent run.

There was a surprise in the home line-up with left-back Mark Knee back in the ranks, several years after his previous spell at the Lane.

He has signed on dual-registration forms from Southern Combination premier side Horsham after injury worries over James Crane and Daryl Wollers.

In goal for Kingstonian was Rob Tolfrey, who was banned for seven games after going into the crowd and remonstrating with a Bognor fan at the end of the Rocks’ win at Kingsmeadow last February.

The game started at a brisk pace with both teams showing their intent to get the ball down and pass it around at pace.

The result extends Bognor’s unbeaten run to seven games and lifts them to fourth place in the table, just two points behind leaders Grays.

The first sustained spell of pressure came from Ks but it ended with a wildly-off-target shot by Dan Bennett.

Dan Beck seemed to catch Tolfrey by surprise with a fierce drive from 25 yards - it appeared to swerve in the air and the keeper had to block it with his left arm.

A Ty Smith free-kick swung in from the right brought an unconvincing punch clear from Grant Smith on nine minutes.

Craig Robson saved the Rocks in the 11th minute with a brave header clear as a Ks forward prepared to nod in the opener.

There were few clear-cut chances in the opening 20 minutes but plenty of fesity challenges and, as a result, the game had more than its fair share of free-kicks.

A promising move from left to right was thwarted when Alex Parsons’ cross was cut out at the near post.

On 24 minutes Parsons was set free down the right and cut inside before a defender blocked his curling effort. The rebound fell to Jason Prior but he placed a firm shot just over.

Peter Dean ought to have put Ks ahead on 27 minutes but shot weakly at Smith after a three-man move had opened up the Bognor defence.

Ty Smith went into the book for a cynical pulling-back of Prior as he led a Bognor break on the half-hour mark. At the same time Ks full-back Aaron Goode needed treatment.

Goode had taken a knock and had to be replaced by Max Hustwick.

George Wells was the second visitor to be yellow-carded after stopping Parsons in his tracks during a decent Rocks attack. Pearce’s free-kick evaded everyone in the area.

The best effort of the first half was rocketed goalwards by Pearce from the D but Tolfrey did superbly to tip it over. The corner eventually fell to Beck but he drove his shot wide from 20 yards.

HT 0-0

Malachi Hudson replaced Wells for Ks for the start of the second half.

Prior had the first chance of the second half, but his goalbound shot from Parsons’ cut-back on 52 minutes was blocked by a defender’s sliding challenge.

Nilsen’s high hanging cross had to be clawed out from beneath his bar by Tolfrey.

The pressure was building and Beck and Nilsen both had shots at goal blocked in a scramble with 57 minutes gone.

Pearce went down in the box as a through-ball was played into his path on the hour but the referee was having none of it.

Prior got his head on a Whyte cross on 66 minutes but could only direct it at Tolfrey.

Minutes later Prior thought he was clean through but an offside flag stopped his advance to the annoyance of the home crowd.

Ex-Rock Arron Hopkinson was Ks’ third sub - replacing Dean with 17 minutes to go, while Gary Charman replaced the hard-working Parsons.

Pearce was booked for his over-eagerness in getting the ball back for a free-kick given for a foul against him.

The final home sub of the night was Alfie Rutherford, who replaced Nilsen with six minutes left, but it was not enough to bring about a late winner and in truth a goal for either side in the dying stages would have been unfair on the side conceding it.

The result extends Bognor’s unbeaten run to seven games and lifts them to fourth place in the table, just two points behind leaders Grays.

Next up for Bognor is Saturday’s home FA Cup second qualifying round tie with Lowestoft.

Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Knee, Nilsen, El-Abd, Robson, Parsons, Beck, Prior, Pearce, Field. Subs: Rutherford, Green, Charman, Wollers, Rowlatt.

Kingstonian: Tolfrey, Goode, Wells, Smith, Page, Inns, Bennett, Sweeney, Dean,O’Damety, Casey. Subs: Hustwick, Hopkinson, Hudson.

Ref: Matt Eva (Farnham)

Att: 351

Report by STEVE BONE

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