THE ROCKS return to league action this weekend with manager Jamie Howell warning them: We mustn’t lose our cutting edge.
He felt the 1-1 FA Cup draw at Frome last Saturday - when they missed a hatful of chances then let in a late goal that forced a replay - was a reminder of the importance of taking goalscoring opportunities.
They made up for that blip by hitting four past Frome in Wednesday night’s replay to win through to a second qualifying round trip to Weymouth on Saturday week.
See Tommy McMillan’s picture gallery from the victory at the top of this article.
But Howell said the recent run of four wins and a draw from five Ryman premier matches would soon be forgotten if they didn’t keep making opposition teams pay when they were on top.
The men from Nyewood Lane should have been out of sight in Somerset but had only Ben Godfrey’s fifth goal in six games to show for their dominance as the game entered its final stages.
Then full-back Jon Marzetti contrived to mis-direct an attempted headed clearance into his own net to gift the hosts a draw and a trip to West Sussex for the replay, which saw Frome go out to goals by Harvey Whyte, Ollie Pearce, Godfrey and Terry Dodd.
Howell hopes that if Bognor dominate other games in the same way, they get the goals to go with it.
Hampton & Richmond bring their unpredictable form to the Lane on Saturday and struggling Cray are in town next Tuesday.
Howell said: “It was frustrating at Frome. I didn’t think we played brilliantly - not as well as we had been playing, anyway - but we had enough chances to win the game comfortably.
“Even when we did score we made hard work of it, but by not getting more than one, we left ourselves vulnerable and then let in quite a comic goal at the end.
“We should have converted more chances and that worries me. It’s what cost us early in the season and we can’t let it creep back in. We have to be more clinical.”
Howell wants his players to show Hampton & Richmond the Rocks are a much-improved outfit compared to the one who crashed 5-0 at home to the same visitors only six months ago.
The Rocks were going through a woeful run of form when the Beavers battered them but have strengthened considerably since then. In fact, only three of the starting XI from that game started at Frome on Saturday, and the likes of Stuart Axten and Ben Johnson have returned from injury.
“I’ve seen Hampton & Richmond this season and thought they looked a good side – I am surprised by some of their poor results, although they did beat Cray 4-0 on Tuesday,” Howell said.
“I hope we can show we’re a very different team to one they played when they came here in March.
“We’ve got ourselves in a good position in the league and now we have to build on that. Our confidence has come back but confidence can be a fragile thing. I think if we play as well as we can and keep people fit, we will win more than we lose.”
The club are still on the lookout for one or two additions to the squad, feeling they need a little extra if they’re to make a serious challenge for a play-off spot.
Howell said: “I’m happy with the squad we have but one or two would make us that bit stronger. The club have said we can bring in a couple more. In fact, the club have always supported me where I’ve wanted to bring in quality additions. What we won’t do is introduce a player who just wants to come here for a payday.”
Midfielder Kane Wills is recovering well from ankle ligament damage but Saturday looks like coming too soon for his return. But two other midfielders - Dan Kempson and the returning Scott Chamberlain - are fit and pushing for involvement while Johnson looked sharp in his first start for a year against Frome in the replay.
James Crane starts a three-match ban for his recent red card away to Billericay.