Lucas Pattenden and Dan Smith were both missing through injury. Pattenden had pulled up early on at Canvey Island, failing a fitness test before kick off, and Smith is just recovering from a foot injury. Kieran Douglas returned to the bench after coming back from his one-game suspension, writes LIAM GOODLEY.
Isaac Olaniyan cut out a defensive clearance before passing it onto Mather who squared it to Dan Gifford but he was blocked off by Nathan Harvey inside the first minute.
Then Bradley Pritchard did well to cut inside from the left following a long ball and slid his effort wide along the deck from a tight angle on 7 minutes.
On 8 minutes it was Ryan Gondoh who burst through after Pritchard’s through pass. He composed himself before shooting but Ryan Hall was solid and diverted it out again.
Ben Anderson did well to run along the wing before passing it back inside but both Olaniyan and Gifford missed it. Then Matt Burgess went into the book for a foul on Gondoh, on the counter attack, immediately after on 12 minutes.
Then Gondoh latched onto the ball and ran inside from the right and did all the hard work darting in between the players before shooting wide of the near post.
Calvin Davies won possession and he played it forward to Mather who beat his man before shooting across the goal but Harvey pushed it out into the path of De St Croix who couldn’t get his boot around it and was blocked.
Bognor took the lead as Lewes defender Arthur Penney failed to find his man with his back pass. Mather was there to steal it, round the goalkeeper and neatly fire into an empty net on 18 minutes.
Archie Tamplin won a freekick with Olaniyan’s high foot in front of the penalty area. Gondoh stepped up to curl the ball low through the defensive wall and it bounced once before going into the bottom right side of the net on 24 minutes.
Joe Rabbetts combined with Davies to get a cross in from the left but it flashed dangerously across goal and out for a goal kick on 31 minutes.
A quick move on the break for Lewes saw Dion Moore burst down the left fiercely placing the ball into the box and it was Pritchard who diverted it into the net on 34 minutes.
Gifford did well to pass onto De St Croix on the right. He whipped the ball into the area but Mather headed it upwards under pressure from the defenders.
Gondoh beat Rabbetts to the ball to place the ball square to Tamplin but his strike on the edge of the box was blocked by Bognor’s defence. Mather headed out Gondoh’s first corner and then he booted clear the second attempt from the same corner on 39 minutes.
Kieran Murtagh went into the book on the halfway line for fouling Olaniyan on 40 minutes.
Good play from Mather saw him pick out Burgess ahead of him but he had beaten his defender and decided to try and square it to Gifford but was blocked inside the first half stoppage time.
Davies went into the book again for a late strong challenge on Gondoh just before half time.
Moore won an early second half corner but it was played short and then sub Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalali’s cross was knocked away by Rabbetts and then Robson with his header on the follow up.
A double substitution saw Davies and Howick replaced by Kieran Douglas and Tommy-Lee Higgs on 49 minutes.
Olaniyan’s bouncing cross went into the heart of the box but it was saved by Harvey on 52 minutes.
A long ball through defence saw Moore pounce and Anderson failed to get a touch to it and Moore chipped it over goalkeeper Ryan Hall but the ball bounced wide of the open goal.
Play was held up for at least 2 minutes for Tamplin’s back injury but he did return to play.
In a rare forward ball it was Mather who cut the ball back inside for Gifford but his low strike was blocked.
On 63 minutes it was Harvey Hughes who went into the book for Lewes after taking too long with a freekick.
A number of corners for Lewes had to be cleared by the Bognor defence as it was a quiet opening first 15 minutes of the second half.
But Mather set up Bognor’s equaliser on 67 minutes. He did well on the right before playing it to Gifford who laid it off for Higgs who hit it early and hard into the net sending Rocks fans into celebrations.
It got even better when Bognor got their third goal on 73 minutes. Mather did well to run down the middle and it was Penney who clearly fouled him. He got a yellow card and Gifford stepped up to slam it high into the net to give Bognor a slender lead.
Lumumbo-Kalali had a shot pushed over the bar by Hall.
Mather was causing all sorts of problems for Lewes all game long and was rightfully named man of the match but he went into the book for a shoulder to shoulder challenge shortly after Higgs looked to be fouled in a similar challenge.
For Lewes, Will Salmon rose highest for another corner but with a free header he diverted it wide of the left post on 88 minutes.
Then Mather went for a speculative effort blasting it wide of the right post from over 25 yards out.
Bognor were again the team to concede late on as Chris Whelpdale’s ball in was inadvertently glanced high into his own net by Joe Briffa who was trying to head the ball away. The equalising goal went in during the 5th minute of the allotted stoppage time.
An entertaining game ended in a melee with players and management staff getting involved after the final whistle. In the end it was Robson and Douglas who were given straight red cards along with the assistant manager for the Rooks.
Next up, Rocks travel to Burgess Hill Town in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round on Saturday 2nd September with kick off at 3pm.
Rocks: Hall, Anderson, Rabbetts, Davies (c) (Higgs 49), Howick (Douglas 49), Robson, De St Croix (Briffa 84), Burgess, Gifford, Mather, Olaniyan
Subs not Used: Jammeh, Lethbridge.
Attendance – 991