It was a Boxing Day spectacle everyone was looking forward to – and Bognor did not disappoint holding Hawks to a one all draw in front of a bumper crowd of more than 1,300 at Nyewood Lane.
With the ground buzzing at the prospect of seeing second play third in the Ryman Premier, players from both sides gave their all to produce a nervy but enthralling contest
Ryan Woodford gave the visiting Havant & Waterlooville the lead just before the break.
But a goal from Ed Sanders in the second period earned the Rocks a point and kept Jamie Howell’s side in second, two points ahead of their Hampshire rivals and three behind Needham Market in top spot.
On reflection, most at Nyewood Lane will be happy with the result against a side that has spent big in a bid to return to Conference South.
Among them were Rocks old boys Alfie Rutherford and Jason Prior, who both started for the visitors.
But it was Bognor who had their chances early on. First, James Crane had a driven shot saved by Ryan Young in the Havant goal.
Then, a forward ball by James Fraser found Alex Parsons on the run but he, unfortunately, lost control of it with the Hawks defence stretched.
Havant then took control – with Rocks’ goalkeeper Dan Lincoln having to push over a cross from Alfie Rutherford on 12 minutes.
On the half hour, Lincoln was called into action again saving low down from Prior who had beaten Sanders.
The visitors’ pressure paid off just before the break when Lincoln’s punch saw Ryan Woodford rush in and head the ball into the net out of the goalkeeper’s reach.
It remained that way until the hour mark when a short corner gave James Fraser space out wide. He then fired the ball across the goal which found its way to Sanders, who slotted it in off the post.
Both sides had chances to win the game.
Lee Molyneaux scored for Havant on 73 minutes but he was called offside as he timed his run wrongly before volleying in beyond Lincoln.
At the other end, Fraser did well to pass out wide to Harvey Whyte and his cross eventually fell to Ollie Pearce in space. But his curled effort was well saved by Young.
Jimmy Wild then forced the Havant keeper into a fingertip save after he slammed the ball towards goal on the rise.
Havant did try their best to put some pressure on at the other end.
But neither of the sides could get the winner and a draw was a fair result in the end.
Next up for Bognor is a trip to Met Police tomorrow before visiting Worthing on Monday.