Isthmian League Premier

Bognor Regis Town 1

(James Crane)

Dulwich Hamlet 1

(Matt Drage)

Attendance: 447

Nyewood Lane

A trip to Nyewood Lane, although not a new ground for me today, was a special place to be returning to.

I am not 100% sure when I last visited the ground but I have definitely been twice, against Brighton & Hove Albion and Eastbourne Borough, both pre season friendlies I think. I am going to guess my first visit was roughly 2008 (I would have been 13) and then my second visit would have been a year or two later. It will be a case of checking my hand written journals that I kept back then which are kept my parents home in the North West.

Duncan Jupp was playing for the Rocks during my last visit if that gives you an idea of how long ago it was for any Bognor fans.

I have a strong affiliation with Bognor Regis, not so much the football team, but the place itself. I spent many a vacation visiting the stony beach and arcades, as it is where my granddad lives and today was a perfect chance to go over for a catch up.

And the plan couldn’t have been better, visit family and then head over to the game as top of the league Bognor faced FA Trophy hopefuls Dulwich Hamlet.

On my two previous visits to Nyewood Lane, my granddad and uncle have accompanied me to the games. (They are both called Albert; cue the Only Fools & Horses gags!)

This time, my uncle deciding a haircut was more important and my granddad not feeling up to standing in the cold for two hours, I ended up heading over there on my own.

So a few hours with my grandparents and demolishing a couple of bacon rolls, I headed to the ground and arrived about 30 minutes before kick off.

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The Ground

As my sat-nav told me I was getting close, I parked up on the road leading up to the ground, the blokes getting out of the other cars with green scarves was a big giveaway that I was close. I could see the lights, and hear the pre match music and as I got closer to the ground, I really couldn’t remember a thing from my last visit nearly ten years ago.

I turned right down a long driveway as such leading up to the turnstiles, still nothing looking familiar, I paid my student concession of £3 and it all came flooding back once I got inside.

On entry you come out up one corner, the open end behind the goal that sits by the clubhouse was filled with supporters having a beer on the terrace (very Non-League). The tea hut and club shop didn’t look as I had remembered but a lot can change in ten years. I went into the shop and was kindly given a team sheet, something that I love to have if I can.

I purchased my programme and set off exploring. The main stand was exactly how I remembered it. I had sat in there with my granddad and uncle as a youngster in my previous visits.

Next to the main stand was an old covered standing terrace and opposite the length of the pitch was covered standing with a few steps to add a bit of height if you were set back from the pitch.

Behind the goal opposite the clubhouse was also covered, a proper little compact ground and plenty of fans inside ready to watch the game.

One thing that soon became apparent is that you couldn’t walk all the way around, I got to the players entrance and realised I had gone as far as I could, not the end of the world but I do like a pre game stroll around.

I watched the teams enter the pitch and walked back around to the terrace opposite the main stand, pausing briefly in respect of a minute’s silence to a home supporter who had lost his life this week. RIP Les Jackson.

I positioned myself roughly half way in the terrace, a fantastic spot with nothing obstructing the view, which is always a bonus if you can see everything that is happening.

Nyewood Lane is fantastic, not a new ground for me to visit but it had been that long it was amazing to come back. I really recommend anyone to go and take in a game there, especially with the Rocks doing so well in the league.

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The Game

James Crane’s late diving header rescued a point for league leaders Bognor Regis Town against mid-table Dulwich Hamlet.

The visitors had taken the lead in the first half through Matt Drage, but Crane came off the bench to secure a point and keep the gap at the top of the table to three points.

There was a great chance inside the opening two minutes for Jamie Howells’ home side to take the lead as the ball bounced around the box as James Fraser and Harvey Whyte had shots blocked before Dulwich cleared their lines.

Hamlet’s first chance of the came fell to Dipo Akinyemi who got the better of Sami El-Abd on the right and fired a shot across goal that couldn’t reach a team mate to tap in.

The visitors had the slight edge in the opening exchanges, passing the ball well and a slick build up allowed Ashley Carew the chance to do a couple of step overs in the box before drilling the ball low into the side netting.

Jimmy Muitt and Whyte exchanged passes with the former turning and curling a shot just wide for the hosts as both sides had chances to take the lead.

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The first goal of the game came on 18 minutes for the away side. Jamie Mascoll took a short corner to former Football League striker Gavin Tomlin, who rolled it back to the defender to fire a low ball into the box for Drage to knock towards goal but the final touch came from Rocks midfielder Fraser. Drage wheeled away in celebration but it could well go down as an own goal.

The woodwork saved the day for the home side on 31 minutes when Tomlin curled in a corner straight onto the head of Michael Chambers and everyone watched as the ball looped onto the top of the crossbar and out.

With ten minutes of the half remaining Fraser should have pulled it level for Bognor when his shot from just inside the area curled away from goal at the last second, it looked destined to go in and get the better of Preston Edwards in the Dulwich goal.

Akinyemi could have doubled Hamlet’s lead just after the restart when he worked a bit of space away from El-Abd to fire low at Dan Lincoln, but the Bognor number one managed to get his body behind the ball.

Bognor should have equalised when Hamlet were caught in possession, Fraser managed to pick out Muitt in the box but he could only slide a tame shot into Edwards’ hands.

On the hour, Bognor introduced Jimmy Wild to the game, replacing Calvin Davies and the substitute had an instant impact threading a pinpoint pass to Ollie Pearce who cut inside and fluffed the chance.

Crane replaced Gary Charman on 70 minutes, as the Rocks were getting closer to a home defeat.

Lincoln had to be alert on 74 minutes to keep out Ibrahim Kargbo’s rocket shot from the edge of the box. The Sierra Leone midfielder hit the ball hard and straight but it was too close to the ‘keeper.

Fraser curled another effort wide from the edge of the box as Bognor continued to search for the equaliser.

With five minutes left on the clock, Dylan Barnett sent in a good corner which found Crane, unmarked, with all the time in the world to send a diving header through a crowded box and into the corner of the net.

Bognor were pushing hard for the winner and really showing why they are top of the league but Dulwich stayed firm to survive the onslaught.

There was still time for some last minute controversy when Wild had caught Mark Weatherstone late when trying to intercept the pass, earning a yellow card and forcing the right back to be carried off. The Dulwich players surrounded the referee in protest and ‘keeper Edwards was also booked for his appeals, even with so much time added on after the melee, the spoils were shared in this close encounter.

2016/17 Games: 90

2016/17 Grounds: 52 (9)

Total Grounds Visited: 150 (40)

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