ROCKS fans have been told to keep calm over the team’s losing start to the new season.
Defeats to Maidstone and Hendon mean it’s played four, lost four for a side who came third last season – and with two tough games to come over the bank-holiday weekend some are wondering where the first points are coming from.
But manager Jamie Howell has insisted they have the players and the system to come good as soon as they can reinforce the spine of the team with another centre-half and centre-forward.
Big defender Osa Obamwonyi is back at Nyewood Lane two years after a successful spell in the heart of the Rocks defence, but needs time to get match-fit and now faces a three-match ban for a red card at Hendon that left most mystified.
The hunt for other new recruits goes on, but Howell insists the early-season results are no reason to rip things up and start again.
Supporters would have been heartened to see the team score three against leaders Maidstone on Saturday but dismayed at the four goals they gave away.
Defensively the Rocks were much tighter at Hendon, but they created less going forward and couldn’t salvage a point after going 1-0 down in the second half.
Promotion contenders Kingstonian visit the Lane on Saturday before the Rocks visit Sussex rivals Peacehaven on bank holiday Monday.
Howell said: “We can’t defend like we did against Maidstone and win games. Clean sheets bring confidence and, generally, more clean sheets but at the moment we are not getting them.
“Osa came in and did quite well but we have to get him fitter, and now he’ll be suspended. Osa and Craig Robson could form a solid partnership at the back but it will take time.”
James Crane could boost the defence with his return from a shoulder injury as soon as Saturday if he comes through training tonight, while efforts to recruit another defender continue.
Howell said: “At the moment we have a lot of younger players in a struggling team and if we’re honest, we’re playing catch-up. It’s like we’re in pre-season now because players are still getting used to one another and getting fitter.
“Last year we had a poor start and it suddenly came good. This year we need that to happen again but we do need one or two good players to lift those we already have.
“I’ve no problem with the squad we have. There’s nothing wrong with the players and nothing wrong with the system. We won’t panic and go back to square one.
“We are Bognor and can’t just go out and get any player we’d like. We are bringing players through our youth system and it will take years for it to bear fruit to the extent we’d like.
“This is a big test for me as a manager and I’m not naive enough to say I’m not concerned. We need to keep on working, concentrate on our defensive game in training and keep calm heads. Better results will come.”
At least the Rocks are scoring goals. Ollie Pearce, Alex Parsons, Darren Wheeler and Ben Johnson are all off the mark for the campaign and Howell is reasonably happy with the way his attacking options are unfolding.
But he does not feel they have the midfielders to allow him to play with two out-and-out wingers and is still judging which players are best used in which position.
The Rocks have no video evidence to appeal against Obamwonyi’s Hendon red card for violent conduct, although Howell said the player felt he had not done anything wrong in a challenge with a defender after he was moved up front in the search for an equaliser.
REPORTS Page 117
Get reports from the Kingstonian and Peacehaven games on this website