Dodd does the business to get Rocks back on track

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A TERRY DODD penalty secured the Rocks another three points in their bid to reach the play-offs in a tense and forgettable clash with Billericay at Nyewood Lane.

Dodd hammered his spot-kick past keeper Billy Lumley after Ollie Pearce was tripped in the box to get Bognor back to winning ways after two winless games last week ended a run of eight straight wins.

The Rocks - who started the night in seventh place in the Ryman premier table - welcomed striker Ashley Harris, their new loan signing from Pompey, straight into the starting line-up, while Dan Sackman was alongside Stuart Axten in defence.

There was an early scare for the home side when Ricky Sappleton found space for a shot inside the box which flew across Grant Smith’s goal and only just wide of the far post.

The first chance for the home side saw an Axten free header from Kane Wills’ first corner of the night hoofed off the line by a defender.

Billericay looked dangerous going forward and Isaac Layne worked his way clear down the right and into box for a shot which flew over Smith’s goal.

It was all fairly frenetic throughout the first 20 minutes but a bit short on quality from either team.

Arron Hopkinson won a free-kick as he was hauled down during a run down the right - a foul that brought a lecture for full-back Paul Rodgers - but the free-kick was wasted.

As the first half wore on, Bognor were being prevented from playing their passing game by Billericay’s energetic approach.

Hopkinson was sent racing down the right again but his cross was just over-hit as Dodd and Pearce waited in vain for a chance.

Harris’ first meaningful contribution to the Rocks in attack came when he sprayed a lovely cross-field pass out to Hopkinson, whose ball into the box almost set up Dodd for the opener.

Harris - being watched by his Fratton squad-mates Ricky Holmes and Jed Wallace - was finding his feet and won a corner with a run and long-range shot after robbing Imudia of possession near halfway.

Then Harris set up Hopkinson to cut inside but his shot all along the ground was easy for keeper Billy Lumley.

Hopkinson switched to the left but his first foray down that side ended in a cross that was too close to Lumley.

Billericay were under pressure in the first half’s final minute when James Crane swung in a cross from which Lumley needed two attempts to clear the danger. Then Pearce looked certain to poke in the follow-up cross only for Lumley to grab the ball off his toe.

HT 0-0

Daryl Wollers replaced James Crane for the start of the second half, while the visitors brought on Chris Webber for George Beavan.

Rodgers, lucky to avoid a yellow card in the first half, got one five minutes into the second for a cynical shove to take out Hopkinson as he pushed the ball past him. Doug Tuck sent in a nice free-kick but Sackman headed wide.

Moments of excitement were few and far between and the closest the Rocks came to a goal before the hour came when Dodd’s slide-rule pass put Hopkinson in, but he was thwarted by a perfectly-timed tackle by Imudia, who was proving a thorn in the hosts’ side.

Harris’ debut ended on the hour when he was replaced by Harvey Whyte.

The play was becoming a little ragged and both sides wasted good openings with poorly-hit shots, Dodd skewing one wide for Bognor.

The Rocks’ final change arrived with 22 minutes left, Hopkinson replaced by Dan Thompson.

Finally the breakthrough came on 73 minutes. Pearce hared away down the left and when he surged into the box he was rather crudely brought down. The referee pointed to the spot and after a delay in which the guilty defender was booked and keeper Lumley also saw yellow for time-wasting, Dodd hammered home the penalty.

Soon Thompson was in with a sniff of a quick second but he fluffed his shot in the D as the keeper came out.

Billercay made two more changes, introducing Billy Lobjoit for Layne and Evans Kouassi for Joe Benjamin.

Axten was booked after the Rocks were given a free-kick inside their own half - seemingly for disputing a decision.

Whyte headed just wide from a free-kick whipped in from wide on the left with five minutes of the 90 left.

Paul Hinshelwood was named man of the match at the end of a solid display at right-back.

The referee added on four minutes but Billericay couldn’t muster a shot on target and the Rocks played out time comfortably to send most of the crowd of 399 home happy.

Rocks: Smith, Hinshelwood, Crane, Tuck, Sackman, Axten, Hopkinson, Wills, Dodd, Pearce, Harris. Subs: Kempson, Thompson, Whyte, Wollers.

Billericay: Lumley, Rodgers, Beavan, Dunne, Imudia, Scott, Layne, Poole, Sappleton, Benjamin, Ekim. Subs: Doolan, Lobjoit, Webber, Halle, Kouassi.

Ref: Tony Foster (Fareham)

The Rocks are next in action away to leaders Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday, before going to face Met Police - who won at Dulwich tonight - next Tuesday.

Get all the latest from Nyewood Lane in the Observer, out on Thursday.