Axten and Stoner the heroes as Rocks snatch promotion

Wes Fogden is brought down against Hemel Hempstead. Picture: Keith Woodland

Bradbury: There’s more to come from Hawks

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Darin Killpartrick hailed a ‘wonderful day’ at Nyewood Lane as Bognor won promotion back to the Ryman premier division.

The Rocks secured their passage back into the league’s top flight at the second attempt after squeezing out Dulwich Hamlet 1-0 in front of an incredible and joyous 2,011 crowd.

Stuart Axten got the only goal before a resolute defensive effort secured the play-off trophy and the chance to climb out of Ryman one south – a year after the heartache of missing out on the title by one goal.

Afterwards joint manager Killpartrick said: ‘This is the most wonderful day at a wonderful club.

‘We always felt positive about going into the play-offs this year and are delighted to have finished the job.

‘We believe we belong in the premier division.

‘The fans and players have been magnificent.’

The Rocks made a fairly lively start but the first chance of the afternoon fell to visitors Dulwich.

Nyren Clunis found space on the byline to square inside the box to Peter Adenyiy, whose low curling shot was grabbed by Craig Stoner at the second attempt.

The home side replied with a long-range effort from Kane Wills that keeper Phil Wilson did well to tip away.

Bognor led in the 17th minute, though.

Another excellent Wilson save – from an Ashley Robinson rocket – led to a Ben Johnson corner which Axten rose to nod in.

Dulwich enjoyed a good spell of pressure after the goal.

And Clunis and Kevin James both went close to forcing an equaliser.

The visitors had the better of the remainder of the half but the Rocks defended resolutely to maintain the lead at the interval.

Dulwich continued to press at the beginning of the second half, too.

However, Clunis fired the best of their chances just over when a corner was cleared to him 20 yards out.

Terry Dodd was close to giving Bognor a two-goal advantage when he took a James Crane pass in his stride and forced keeper Wilson into a superb block at his near post.

Dulwich then looked set to level when they were awarded a penalty on the hour mark.

Dan Beck blocked a close range Omarr Lawson shot with his arm.

He was booked for handball before the majority of the 2,011 crowd roared their approval when Stoner guessed right and dived to save sub Sanchez Ming’s penalty.

Steve Harper might have made it 2-0 with 20 minutes left on the clock but lost his cool when clear in the box after a Beck set-up and lobbed well over.

For all their pressure, Dulwich didn’t create anything clear-cut.

And the final 10 minutes was not as frantic as it might have been as the Rocks held on to claim their place in the Ryman premier.

– STEVE BONE