FRUSTRATED but not forlorn. That was the feeling in the Rocks camp after they suffered two defeats in three days in the FA Trophy and Ryman League.
They lost to an 81st-minute Hayes and Yeading winner in Sunday’s Trophy tie at Woking and went down to a single second-half strike away to promotion-chasing AFC Hornchurch on Tuesday night.
Neither defeat was disastrous but manager Jamie Howell said he felt with a little more luck and belief, they might easily have taken Hayes to a replay and come away from Essex with a creditable point.
For a change, the Rocks’ ability to create plenty of chances - and put a good ratio of them away - deserted them.
Now they aim to bounce back to winning ways with two home games in the next week, with in-form Bury Town visiting the Lane on Saturday for a Ryman premier game and county-league outfit Lancing following for a Sussex Senior Cup second-round tie next Tuesday - and Bognor have a new defender in the squad, ahead of an existing one leaving, as they prepare for those games.
Howell said: “I’m not going overboard about either of the two defeats but I am frustrated.
“Against Hayes we played well but made one or two mistakes at crucial times, and against sides from a higher level, even though they are only one division above us, you don’t get a second chance.
“At 1-1 we had a three-versus-two advantage in an attack and over-elaborated, and then we conceded a poor goal. And that was it - we were out.
“At Hornchurch it was a really poor game on a poor pitch and if we could have got out of there with a 0-0 draw, I’d have been delighted. But we let one in and it just didn’t happen for us.”
Howell said although the losses had come in games they knew would be tough, he didn’t want anyone at the club to accept such results couldn’t be avoided.
“I think one of the problems we have is belief. We are a good side and we know we are but sometimes there is not that confidence that we can take on teams like Hayes and get a result, when I firmly believe we should be thinking like that,” he added.
Howell is also becoming angry at the way opposition sides seem able to influence officials when Rocks players are taught to treat them with respect.
Rocks bosses felt a Hayes player on a yellow card should have been sent off for pulling back Doug Tuck and wondered if he would have seen red if their players had lobbied the referee.
Then at Hornchurch, Howell said the home players confronted the ref numerous times after challenges - sometimes running half the length of the pitch to do so.
He added: “I’m not saying any decisions by the officials affected the results, but we keep on being told about the Respect campaign and we try to adhere to it. Then you see things like that and it’s very frustrating.”
The Rocks welcome Bury Town to the Lane with virtually a full squad to pick from - although winger Arron Hopkinson and utility man Craig Robson have both picked up their fifth bookings of the season and will each miss the home game with Maidstone on Tuesday, December 3.
Theclub have agreed terms with Gosport Borough to sign former Rock defender Paul Hinshelwood on a short-term loan, and he is expected to be in the squad for Saturday’s match. Hinshelwood played for Bognor five years ago before joining Havant and Waterlooville, moving on to Gosport during the summer.
Alex Malins’ loan comes to an end this weekend and he will be returning to Crawley Town. Club secretary Simon Cook said: “Alex has performed extremely well in the three months he has spent at Nyewood Lane and the club are extremely grateful to him, and wish him all the best in his future career.”
Striker Ollie Pearce and midfielder Tuck appear to have shaken off hamstring problems and midfield man Harvey Whyte should be ready for a start soon as he gets over a thigh injury.
Bury, like the Rocks, are not far off the top five. They have won their past five league games, scoring 14 goals.
They boast a number of ex-pros including top scorer Billy Clark, who made three appearances at Championship level for Ipswich in 2010.
STEVE BONE & JAMES SANDFORD
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