Rocks aim to hold nerve on final day of drama

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Jamie Howell looked ahead to a day of drama in the Ryman premier title race and said: “We just need to concentrate on ourselves.”

Bognor will kick off their final league game, at home to Hendon on Sturday still in with a slim chance of claiming top spot and automatic promotion.

If they win and leaders Hampton lose, and Bognor make up a goal-difference deficit of four, they will be champions.

It’s a long shot and Howell said the best approach was for the Rocks to focus on their own job.

“It’s fantastic it’s still alive on the final day but if we worry about others too much we may not win our own game,” he said.

“We’ve won five in a row and have to focus on beating Hendon. If it transpires during the game that Hampton are slipping it up and we need more goals, we’ll know.”

Jason Prior tries to convert a chance against Brentwood / Picture by Tim Hale

Jason Prior tries to convert a chance against Brentwood / Picture by Tim Hale

Bognor set up Saturday’s showdown by winning 2-0 at Leiston on Saturday and beating Brentwood 3-1 at Nyewood Lane on Tuesday night.

“We just had to win both games and were delighted we did. Both were tough in different ways.

“Against Brentwood, winning was the priority. Of course we wanted more goals to help the goal difference but sometimes you can try too hard and snatch at every chance that comes.

The more likely outcome is that the Rocks finish second. That would hand them a home play-off semi-final next Thursday against Dulwich, Enfield or Tonbridge and mean them being at home in the final if they got there.

Whatever happens on Saturday or in the play-offs, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

Jamie Howell

If East Thurrock pip Bognor to second place, the Rocks are still guaranteed third and a home play-off semi-final, but that would see them away from home if they got to a play-off final against East Thurrock.

Bognor bosses want a large and noisy crowd in to celebrate what’s been a fantastic season whatever the outcome.

Howell said: “The players have been fantastic and so have the fans. And I think both parties appreciate the effort the other has put in.

“Whatever happens on Saturday or in the play-offs, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

“If we do go into the play-offs whatever will be will be. They’re one-off games and we’ll be going in with good form behind us, but they can be a lottery.”

Tuesday’s win brought the total of games played since the FA Trophy exit at Grimsby to 12 in 29 days. Of those the Rocks have won nine and lost three, scoring 30 and conceding just nine.

Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “It’s a great record but the run of three difficult away games in five days which we lost did hurt us.

“But we go into the final day with everything to play for and spirits are high and momentum is with us.”

A couple of changes to the team will be enforced on Saturday.

The Rocks will be without right-back Harvey Whyte – banned for two games for accruing ten bookings. James Crane could switch from left-back or Snorre Nilsen could be drafted into his place.

Winger Alex Parsons has suffered a calf strain and his season could be over, leaving the likes of Connor Tighe and Ollie Pearce vying for his spot.

Follow the final day live at www.bognor.co.uk if you can’t get to the game.

STEVE BONE

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