El-Abd saves point as Rocks stay in play-off spots

Chike Kandi went close against Hendon / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Chike Kandi went close against Hendon / Picture by Tommy McMillan

On a sloping, bobbly pitch and in very strong winds, the Rocks managed to grind out a 1-1 draw with Hendon at the Earlsmead Stadium.

The first half saw the away team playing up the slope with the wind at their backs, and it became obvious pretty quickly that conditions were going to make things difficult.

This proved to be the case when after strong pressure from Hendon, they opened the scoring on seven minutes when a good shot from Finnbar Robins went into the net with keeper Grant Smith seeming to misjudge the flight of the ball.

This acted as a wake-up call for Bognor, who gradually began to take the game to Hendon and a series of good moves resulted in chances for Doug Tuck and Gary Charman which were well saved by Joe Wright in the Hendon goal.

The irrepressible Harvey Whyte tried his luck on 30 minutes, but his fierce shot was blocked. Right on half-time, Ollie Pearce had a fine shot well saved by the Hendon keeper.

The start of the second half saw Stuart Green replace Charman, who had picked up a knock earlier, and immediately Bognor were pressurising the Hendon goal – but frustratingly, it was to little avail.

On 62 minutes, Dan Beck came off for Chad Field with the impressive Craig Robson going into a midfield position.

This change of strategy paid off in the 72nd minute when following a flowing build-up, Sami El Abd coolly flicked the ball into the Hendon net to equalise.

It was all Bognor and they threw everything into getting a winning goal with chances falling Chike Kandi, James Crane and Alfie Rutherford, who came on in the 86th minute. But the home side desperately held on for a draw.

Bognor can be satisfied with a hard-fought point away from home, which was made all the sweeter by the fact that nearly all the Rocks challengers in the top six lost.

The Rocks now turn their attentions to two cup competitions - they go to Eastbourne Town on Tuesday night in the Sussex Senior Cup third round and visit National League South side Maidstone in the FA Trophy first round next Saturday.

Rocks: Smith, Whyte, Crane, Tuck, El-Abd, Robson, Pearce (Rutherford), Beck (Field), Prior, Kandi, Charman (Green) Sub not used: Parsons.

by ROGER NASH

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