Crane gives Rocks their third win in five days

James Crane gets the winner at Needham Market / Picture by Tommy McMillan
James Crane gets the winner at Needham Market / Picture by Tommy McMillan

A 77th-minute goal from James Crane was enough to earn another three points for the Rocks – their third win in five days.

It strengthened their position in the play-off places and left them just nine points off leaders Hampton and Richmond, who have played five games more.

At a windy Bloomfields, Doug Tuck returned from suspension as a good number of Bognor fans arrived after the long trip from the south coast.

Dan Beck and Craig Robson started on the bench as they were carrying knocks from the past week’s games, which meant Chad Field and Snorre Nilsen both got starts. After his hat-trick on Thursday night against Grays, Alfie Rutherford also had a start.

Windy conditions were a major factor from the start but Ollie Pearce’s long ball forward to Jason Prior saw the striker flick the ball into the box for Sami El-Abd, but he could only a corner. Pearce’s corner from the right was headed by Keiran Morphew towards his own goal but Daniel Gay was well positioned to save.

Darryl Coakley’s long throw into the box had to be headed out by El-Abd.

Bognor were attacking well and spurred on by the travelling fans singing ‘Dabba and Howeller’s Green and White Army’ as Brothers failed to break through the Rocks defence at the other end.

Stuart Green latched on to a forward pass by Prior to win a throw. The throw by Harvey Whyte resulted in Green, Doug Tuck and Pearce all having shots blocked.

James Akintunde was fouled and Michael Brothers curled a free-kick towards the top corner but Grant Smith managed to push it away.

Oliver Mann was sent through by Brothers but he looped his shot the bar.

Pearce teed up Rutherford but he sent his shot well wide. Prior hit a deflected shot at goal that was easily stopped by Gay.

The wind was against Bognor and they struggled to keep the ball out of their own half.

But they did have a good spell as Whyte and Pearce propelled them forward.

Coakley hit a dipping free-kick that almost beat Smith but he deflected the ball over the bar after it bounced awkwardly in front of him.

Morphew fouled Pearce and the referee gave a free-kick. But Pearce’s delivery swung harmlessly out.

HT 0-0

Luke Ingram replaced Mann after half-time for the Marketmen.

Rocks were playing with the wind in the second half as they hoped to get a goal.

A long ball over the top towards Rutherford was cut out by the goalkeeper inside the first minute of the second period.

Coakley set up Brothers but Smith got down well to stop the shot on 51 minutes.

Green was replaced by Gary Charman a minute later.

Charman’s shot on the volley was struck well over the bar, then Prior nodded the ball down for Charman again and his high, looping shot only just floated over.

Coakley blasted high and wide on 59 minutes after a looping cross by Brothers.

Akintunde turned his defender before striking a low shot at goal, but Smith held it easily.

Crane struck a shot on the bounce on 61 minutes and the ball ricocheted off the underside of the bar.

Crane was denied a real goal-scoring opportunity by a sliding intervention by Jake Dye.

Charman’s throw from the left found Prior, who flicked it on, but Gay tipped it around the post on 65 minutes.

Bognor were attacking well and spurred on by the travelling fans singing ‘Dabba and Howeller’s Green and White Army’ as Brothers failed to break through the Rocks defence at the other end.

Good work from the forwards led to Pearce cutting inside after controlling it well before firing with his left boot but his effort whizzed wide.

The Rocks got the breakthrough 13 minutes from the end.

Crane slotted home from close range after another wonderful long throw by Charman and a knock-on in the box.

As Needham tried to salvage a point, Dye exploited the gap in the Bognor defence as he picked out Akintunde on the counter-attack. But the striker scuffed his shot wide.

Beck replaced Rutherford on 81 minutes before Dye’s cross was headed back into the goalmouth but failed to trouble Smith.

El-Abd needed treatment following another cross by the hosts.

Whyte hit the Marketmen on the break and teed up Pearce unmarked. But the goalkeeper blocked his shot.

A nervy six minutes and 48 seconds of extra time saw Bognor hold out for another three valuable points.

Next up, and their fourth game in seven days, it’s Burgess Hill at the Lane on Monday afternoon.

Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, El-Abd, Field, Green (Charman 52), Nilsen, Prior, Pearce, Rutherford (Beck 81). Unused subs: Parsons, Robson.

LIAM GOODLEY

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