At a wet and windy Nyewood Lane, Bognor collected a 2-1 win over Needham Market thanks to a double by Chike Kandi, enjoying his final game of his loan spell.
Kandi scored at either end of the game, which was enough to see off struggling Needham Market. The victory moved Jamie Howell’s team up to seventh, just two points outside the play-off zone.
In Bognor’s first game of 2016, Jason Prior was out through suspension.
Harvey Whyte’s early attempt flew harmlessly wide following good work from Alex Parsons after a throw-in straight from kick off.
Whyte combined with Parsons again on the right and Parsons curled in a dipping cross that was well gathered by Daniel Gay.
But on four minutes another cross by Parsons bounced through to Kandi on the back post and he only h ad to tap it in and give Bognor a deserved early lead.
Kandi latched on the ball on the edge of the box, following good work by Rutherford, and his fierce low shot bounced off the post and in as the crowd erupted in relief.
Needham had their first chance on eight minutes when Luke Ingram’s determined run allowed him to get into the box before shooting low. But Grant Smith stopped it.
Oliver Brown’s neat cross found Michael Brothers in the area but sliding in, the striker could only divert his shot well over. It wouldn’t have counted as the linesman had his flag up for offside.
Ollie Pearce’s low ball into the box found Parsons but his instant attempt was well saved by Gay.
Doug Tuck’s strike at goal was also saved but again he had already been flagged offside on 16 minutes.
Wonderful work by Whyte again saw Pearce latch on to the ball and fire at goal on the edge of the box. It produced a fine stop by Gay who pushed it away.
Some quick football saw Kandi find Parsons on the right. Parsons’ cross found Kandi again but he couldn’t direct his header in on 22 minutes.
Jay Davies forced Smith into a save following a low drive on 24 minutes. His strike from outside the box, struck low, was comfortably stopped.
On 25 minutes Parsons struck the frame of goal with a curling shot with his left boot after a winding run and cutting inside.
Parsons ran into the box again shortly after but was closed down by the goalkeeper to win a corner. Pearce’s corner bounced out to Stuart Green, who totally miscued his attempt.
Another attempt by Tuck saw a deflection and another corner to Bognor, who were getting plenty on the right. Unfortunately, nothing came of it.
Joe Whight’s corner fell kindly for Smith.
But the visitors equalised on 39 minutes. Following a misplaced forward pass by Dan Beck, Needham managed to snatch the ball in Bognor’s half. Brothers ran on and from the edge of the box, his shot deflected off a defender before spinning into the net.
A very similar incident happened right at the end the half as Davies’ shot was only just deflected over the bar, much to the relief of the Bognor support.
Parsons sped down the right straight from kick-off after the break and his cross flew narrowly wide of the left post, with none in support.
Parsons provided the threat again down the right but the cross was well saved by Gay. Soon after that he crossed low and a defender deflected it along the ground and into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper.
Jordan Patrick tried his luck from over 30 yards but his attempt was struck high and wide.
Parsons laid the ball back to Whyte. The full-back struck it instantly, aiming for the top left corner, but Gay got his fingertips to it to divert the ball away.
Ingram really should have scored when a cross from the left was well dummied by Brothers before falling to him. His low attempt from five yards out was well stopped by Smith who used his instincts to divert it over the bar with his right leg.
A substitution saw Alfie Rutherford replace Green on 61 minutes as the rain lashed down.
Parsons tried to beat his marker on the right touchline but Whight was late with his tackle and a freekick was awarded. An injury meant that Parsons had to be helped off and be replaced by Gary Charman on 66 minutes.
Charman slid in late on Patrick and he received a yellow card within seconds of coming on.
A corner was awarded to the visitors on the left. Davies’ cross found Samuel Nunn but his glanced header bounced well wide.
An unmarked Rutherford sped through the opposition’s half but despite running well, he perhaps could have gone further before shooting, instead seeing his low shot roll wide of the right post.
Needham really should have scored on 75 minutes. Patrick’s pinpoint cross picked out Brothers but his header was poor and looped wildly over the bar.
Smith had to be committed into a fine stop seconds later from a shot inside the box but the corner from the resulting stop caused no further danger.
Brothers was replaced by Oliver Mann on 80 minutes for the visitors.
Another chance went begging for Bognor as Pearce’s deflected cross spun and bounced over the goalkeeper and the wind took it as far as Charman, who couldn’t direct his header back at goal.
But as the wind roared Bognor regained the lead on 85 minutes. Kandi latched on the ball on the edge of the box, following good work by Rutherford, and his fierce low shot bounced off the post and in as the crowd erupted in relief.
Bognor held on for three additional minutes to pick up a valuable three points in a game that could have gone either way.
Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, Field, Robson, Green (Rutherford 61), Beck, Pearce, Kandi, Parsons (Charman 66). Unused subs: El-Abd, Warren.
* The Rocks are due back in home action on Tuesday night when Eastbourne Town visit in round three of the Sussex Senior Cup.
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