Bognor win is massive - and stops premature end to play-off bid

Jack Pearce says Bognor’s amazing back-from-the-dead win over Folkestone Inivcita was ‘massive’ – and saves their play-off push.

Thursday, 23rd January 2020, 8:00 am
Doug Tuck hammers in Bognor's second as they come from 3-1 down to beat Folkestone 4-3 / Picture: Tommy McMillan

The Rocks manager says defeat could have spelled a premature end to the club’s bid to make the Isthmian premier play-offs.

Bognor trailed 2-0 in the first half and 3-1 midway through the second half before goals by Doug Tuck, Matt Casey and Brad Lethbridge turned the game on its head and gave the home team a 4-3 win that delighted the home crowd.

It left the Rocks seven points off the final play-off place, occupied by Cray, but with games in hand.

And Pearce hopes the never-say-die attitude shown by his team in Saturday’s win can keep the points and wins coming.

He accepts they will have to tighten up again the back, having conceded seven goals in two games against Folkestone in four days.

The second of those meetings ended in a 4-3 defeat for Bognor in Kent in the Velocity Trophy, Invicta winning with a late goal of their own after Eddie Wakley, James Crane and Dan Smith had scored to cancel out the hosts’ 3-0 lead.

Next up are two tricky-looking away trips: to Potters Bar on Saturday and Corinthian-Casuals next Tuesday. Potters Bar won 4-0 at Nyewood Lane in October in a match littered with defensive howlers by the Rocks, while the Casuals are improving after a poor first half of the season.

Pearce said: “That was a massive win for us on Saturday. If we’d lost that, we could have been out of it. We certainly wouldn’t have been one of the favourites for the play-off places. But winning it was very, very important.

“Everyone is beating everyone else in our league and the only really consistent team are Worthing, and that doesn’t surprise me because they don’t concede many. That in my view is the only real difference between us and Worthing.

“Players at our levels have faults and will concede goals but if you can get a defence together that doesn’t, or doesn’t often, make mistakes, you’ll do well.”

Pearce said the seven goals conceded over two clashes with Folkestone were proof the Rocks still had to work to do to make the backline more secure – although the line-up on Tuesday was seriously weakened by unavailability.

He said if they could tighten up while continuing to score at their recent rate, they had every chance of making the play-offs.

“I’m not happy with the number of goals we’re conceding,” he said. “We’ve lost so many centre-halfs over the past two years through injuries and players moving, but we need the defence to be settled.”

The squad for Tuesday’s trophy tie was without Pompey loan trio Casey, Lethbridge and Harry Kavanagh while Keaton Wood was away because of work. Pearce praised the job skipper Harvey Whyte did switching to central defence.

Pearce is challenging his players to take four points from the two away matches in front of them, but does not believe that will be a straightforward task.

The Pompey trio should be available for the weekend’s trip to Hertfordshire to seek revenge over Potters Bar, but Pompey’s continued involved in the Football League Trophy – they reached the semi-finals by beating Scunthorpe on Tuesday – will only add to the frequency with which the youngsters could be called back to Fratton Park.

Midfielder Tommy Leigh is the only new injury doubt for the weekend after picking up a knock at Folkestone, but Pearce hopes the teenager would be fit.