Jamie Howell reflected on Bognor’s controversial FA Cup exit and said: It’s hard to take.
The Rocks second qualifying round defeat at Billericay was sealed by a goal that appeared to go in direct from a throw-in - and the Rocks manager admitted they came home feeling hard done by.
The goal, which the officials said had got a touch on the way in, robbed Bognor of a Nyewood Lane replay and a potential run in the Cup like last year’s, that earned thousands of pounds for the club.
Bognor’s mood improved dramatically on Monday with a fine 2-1 Ryman premier win at Kingstonian, although the victory was threatened by another poor refereeing decision when Kingstonian were given a penalty the Rocks felt should never have been awarded.
The win, courtesy of second-half goals by Jimmy Wild and Alex Parsons, put Howell’s team back on track after back-to-back defeats and set them up for successive home games this Saturday and Tuesday against second-placed Tonbridge and Burgess Hill.
Howell said the Billericay FA Cup clash was a poor game on a poor pitch and was best forgotten.
At Billericay we didn’t play any football and didn’t try to - because you couldn’t.Jamie Howell
“The difference between Billericay’s pitch and Kingstonian’s couldn’t have been greater. At Billericay we didn’t play any football and didn’t try to - because you couldn’t.
“We got ahead and felt we might hang on for a win or a replay but then their goal from the throw-in was given and we were out.
“It upset me. I waited to speak to the referee and I was assured that the linesman felt he had seen a touch. From 40 yards away I don’t see how he could have been sure. And if there was doubt it shouldn’t have been given. But we can’t change it now.
“That decision cost us and the one for Kingstonian’s penalty could have done. We were comfortable at 2-0 up and then they were given a penalty that left me thinking the referee must have got confused about which team was kicking which way.”
Bognor did hold on for a win that took them back into the league’s top five and Howell was delighted with the result.
“We showed really good character and work-rate and played some good football.
“Did we feel pressure after two defeats? I suppose if we’d lost there, it would have been panic stations a bit more but in this league you will win some and lose some.”
Howell knows Tonbridge - who have won six and drawn of their opening eight games - will provide a stiff test at the Lane on Saturday.
“I expected them to do well. They’ve got some players in from Sutton over the summer and are flying,” he said.
The Rocks and their fans will be glad of back-to-back home games after three on the road. Burgess Hill visit for a Sussex derby on Tuesday.
Midfielder Doug Tuck has struggled to shake off a groin problem and is likely to miss both games, but defender Chad Field is fit again after a hamstring problem cleared up.
Wide man Dylan Barnett suffered a dead leg at Billericay but should be okay for the weekend, as might his fellow Brighton loanee Thomas Byrne, recovering well from a hip flexor problem.
Results from utility man Harvey Whyte’s knee scan are awaited, while full-back Daryl Wollers has now been allowed to join Pagham full-time after finding first-team opportunities limited at Bognor.
Howell said: “We wish Daryl all the best and who knows what could happen in the future? He has been a great servant to us.”
The management are delighted to have clinched another loan deal for young Pompey right-back Calvin Davies, who was a big hit in a six-week spell at Bognor last season.
Howell said: “He’s been out injured for six months so we can’t rush him. But he’ll be a key player for us. And we may be able to do some other business with Pompey later on. They’ve been superb with us.”
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