Bognor will play Eastbourne Borough in the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup after a Stuart Green header and a Jason Prior penalty earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Burgess Hill.
It was a forgettable game with little of the drama seen at Nyewood Lane in the FA Trophy win over Sutton a week earlier. Nevertheless the win continued the Rocks’ superb home run of form and kept alive their hopes of a third county cup final in seven seasons.
Next up at home is the FA Trophy quarter-final - and Jamie Howell’s side now know they will be playing Torquay in that game after the team from Plainmoor won their replay at Macclesfield.
For Burgess Hill, it was a good effort and they could head home knowing they had pushed their Ryman premier rivals all the way - and they will look to do the same again soon when the sides play both their league meetings.
Daryl Wollers and Chad Field replaced James Crane and Alex Parsons in the Rocks starting line-up which showed no signs of being weakened with the club still battling away on three fronts and facing a huge number of fixtures in the coming weeks.
Burgess Hill had four ex-Bognor players in their starting XI - Josh James, Andy Pearson, Darren Budd and Scott Kirkwood.
It was a slow start to the game with neither keeper troubled and it took a misplaced pass by Doug Tuck to present the Hillians with their first chance, but Lee Harding shot wide from 20 yards.
The game felt like a training session compared to the atmosphere seen at the ground a week earlier. It was laboured stuff from both sides and when the Rocks did get the ball to the edge of the box, Prior and Green couldn’t quite work an opening.
The standard of the early play was summed up when Chris Smith hit a free-kick from an inviting central position all along the ground and straight at the wall.
Out of nowhere, the Rocks took a 32nd-minute lead as their first sustained spell of attacking ended with Green flicking in a cross from the right side of the area. That came after Burgess Hill had failed to clear their lines after Rutherford and Prior almost linked up to create a close-range opening.
Joe Keehan worked himself into space 25 yards out and got a shot in but Grant Smith was equal to it. Burgess Hill were having plenty of the possession but were not making best use of it.
The Hillians made a change for the start of the second half, bringing on young Cameron Wiltshire for Lee Harding.
Three minutes into the second half Craig Robson picked up the night’s first booking for fouling Smith from behind.
The second half was following a similar pattern to the first with Burgess Hill controlling long spells of the play.
Rutherford went on a box-to-box run on 55 minutes and forced James into a low save to his right with Green looking to pick up any rebound.
Smith then had sight of goal at the other end but skewed his shot wide, with the Hillians’ appeals for a corner waved away.
Prior had time to fire goalwards as a cross from the left fell to him at the far post but his radar was off and he put on the clubhouse roof and down the other side.
Dan Beck replaced Snorre Nilsen on 63 minutes.
A rare scare in the Rocks box with 19 minutes ended with the loose ball running through to Grant Smith when it could easily have fallen for a Hillian.
James Crane replaced Green moments later and he’d not been on for two minutes before a quick Rocks move ended with Robson being upended in the area and Prior burying the spot-kick.
Prior almost got his second in three minutes but deflected a Wollers cross narrowly wide.
The final Rocks change gave Lloyd Rowlatt a run-out in place of Prior for the final 11 minutes.
Burgess Hill got back into it with seven minutes left with a soft goal as Smith was unmarked to tap in from close range.
Bognor had a good spell of possession in the Hillians half as the minutes ticked down and Beck got clear to swing in a cross but Rutherford couldn’t get any power on his header.
Rocks: Smith, Davies, Wollers, Tuck, El-Abd, Robson, Green, Nilsen, Prior, Rutherford, Field. Subs: Crane, Beck, Rowlatt.
Burgess Hill: James, Pearse, Fisk, Budd, Pearson, Miles, Kirkwood, Keehan, P Harding, Smith, L Harding. Subs: Armstrong, Bolton, Doherty,Wiltshire,Levy.
Ref: Matt Lee (Selsey)
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