Rocks have not given up on titles hopes just yet...

Stuart Green scores Bognor's sixth against Wingate / Picture by Tim Hale

Stuart Green scores Bognor's sixth against Wingate / Picture by Tim Hale

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The Rocks admit they probably won’t win the Ryman premier title - but say they will try to keep their end of the deal all the time it’s possible.

A remarkable run of three big wins in the past week have secured a play-off spot and turned up the heat on leaders Hampton and Richmond, who remain hot favourites to finish top and take the only automatic promotion spot.

But if the Rocks were to win all their final three games and Hampton were to lose one of their last two, the two teams would finish level on points and the title would be decided on goal difference.

One from the sides finishing second to fifth will go up via the play-offs.

Hampton are five goals better off at present but the gap has been narrowed by Bognor scoring 15 without reply against Burgess Hill, Leatherhead and Wingate and Finchley.

Read about the Wingate win here and see Jamie Howell’s post-match reaction

A lot can still happen - to us and to the other sides involved - between now and the end of the season. The first thing is we have to do is play a tough game at Leiston on Saturday and try to win that.

Jamie Howell

Bognor manager Jamie Howell does not expect Hampton to blow it but says his team must try to keep winning and score as many goals as they can - an approach seen on Tuesday night when each second-half goal against Wingate was followed by Rocks players grabbing the ball from the net and hurrying back for the restart.

Howell said: “A lot can still happen - to us and to the other sides involved - between now and the end of the season. The first thing is we have to do is play a tough game at Leiston on Saturday and try to win that.

“If we can finish second or third and get a home play-off semi-final, great. But although I don’t expect Hampton to slip up, I want us to end with the season with no regrets - and if we finished level on points with them but down on goal difference, we would have regrets.

“We’ve got some nice momentum from the past three games and we need to try to keep it going into the final games and then into any play-off matches.”

Howell praised the whole squad for playing their part in the sensational recovery from the run of three defeats in five days away to Enfield, Dulwich and Kingstonian that threatened to derail their league effort.

He said recent ever-presents like Grant Smith, Sami El-Abd and Jason Prior deserved high praise, while others who had been in and out of the side, like Harvey Whyte, Chad Field and Snorre Nilsen, had shown great consistency.

Prior’s hat-trick in the 6-0 Wingate win took his season’s tally to 42 goals in all competitions and Howell said: “He just keeps on scoring - he’s relentless. Just having him on the pitch is a real boost.”

Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “We couldn’t have asked for more from the players in these past three games. We are playing good attacking football, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets.

“Even having an extra day’s rest between games is making a difference in our energy levels and ability to press the opposition.”

Howell has had to rotate his squad to get them through a run of ten games in 22 days and he will continue to judge fitness and selection game by game.

Centre-half Craig Robson is still being troubled by an ankle problem which x-rays have confirmed is not a break. He won’t play at Leiston but could feature before the end of the season.

Midfielder Gary Charman has a groin problem but has told Howell he can play if he is needed, while loan striker Chike Kandi’s fitness continues to be monitored.

After the trip to Leiston, the Rocks finish with two home games - against struggling Brentwood next Tuesday and Leiston the following Saturday.

The play-off semi-finals will be held on Thursday, April 28.

STEVE BONE

See Jamie Howell’s post-Wingate win thoughts at www.bognor.co.uk

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