THERE is no panic coming from The Rocks camp despite slipping from the summit of Ryman League division one south on Saturday.
They were forced to make do with a point at the rejuvenated Crawley Down on Saturady – and that was only from Ben Johnson’s last-gasp leveller – which meant Dulwich Hamlet recaptured the top spot, which Bognor had held since December.
It was no doubt a blow in the Nyewood Lane outfit’s promotion chase, but the Rocks’ management have played down the importance of leading, taking the view it’s a marathon not a sprint – something to bear in mind over a crucial Easter period.
Rocks have five games left to play, which will be just three after Easter, as they host Sittingbourne on Saturday, before the eagerly-anticipated local derby at Worthing on Easter Monday.
Joint boss Darin Kilpartrick is insisting it will be business as usual at the weekend and will be hoping that his side have some sharper-eyed officials than last weekend, as he is expecting a real rollercoster at Worthing on Monday.
His main issue regarding what he saw as two dropped points at Crawley was a ‘shocking’ decision, as a blatant push on Stuart Axten was missed in the build-up to the home sides’ first goal, which handed them back the momentum.
He said: “We were bitterly disappointed and no doubt it was two points we have dropped having led 2-0, but that’s football and it always has a real tendency to bring up surprises.
“Throughout all my time in football I have never really blamed referees, but a decision in the build up to their first goal was just absolutely unbelievable.
“The referee and his assistant must have been the only two in Sussex not to have seen it. I think there was a pilot that had just taken off from Gatwick who even saw it.
“With that the momentum changed as we were well, well in control. But in the end we pushed and pushed and got what we deserved.”
On slipping from the top, Kilpartrick said: “It doesn’t make any difference at this part of the season, it only matters come the end of April.
“We’ll prepare for Sittingbourne this week, then after that just take every game as it comes.”
The joint manager, however couldn’t hide his expectations of Monday, warning both sets of fans to hold tight.
He said: “We have a lot of respect for Chris (White, Worthing boss) and what he has done there this season.
“Personally he is a friend of mine, but we are expecting a very tough game over there. Both teams like to pass and move the ball, and I think any fans there, especially neutrals, will have to hold on tight.
“Any derby game you always want to win. I am expecting a great atmosphere, and for me it’ll be what football is all about – a real cauldron in there and what I think will be one of our toughest games of the season.”
Jon Marzetti is an injury worry for Saturday after suffering a hamstring strain at Crawley. Although Rocks could be boosted by the return of captain Dan Beck for as early as next weekend.
Beck, who Rocks believed would be out for the season after breaking his collarbone back in February, began running this week, and joint boss Jamie Howell believes he may be able to play some sort of part in their home match with Whyteleafe a week Saturday.
Howell said: “Dan had been brilliant for us all year and having him back will be good for us, whether it is for the final run in or the play-offs if that is the case.”
Howell was also keen to point out that this season has been far from a straight forward one for Rocks – with injury and transfers to deal with.
He added: “People are looking at us as the same as they were last year and it’s an unfair comparison.
“We’ve had a really difficult season, which has had us have to restructure a bit a couple of times, because of comings and goings and things like that.
“We haven’t had the luxuries we did last year, and I think the fact we have been attacking so well masked over that. – but I think we got found out defensively a little on Saturday.
“We’ll just have to continue with what we’re doing at the moment and hope the outcome is good.”