JAMIE HOWELL admitted ending the Rocks’ game at Kingstonian with four strikers on the pitch was brave – but it’s the sort of gamble that is threatening to throw the team right into the play-off mix.
Regular strike partners Jason Prior and Ollie Pearce were joined by substitutes Terry Dodd and Callum Overton for the final 20 minutes with the sides level at 1-1 when the extra pair came on.
Dodd and Overton then both played a part in Pearce netting the winner to give Bognor a valuable three points against one of their rivals for a play-off spot.
On a night when a fine win was overshadowed by the unsavoury scenes at the end involving Kingstonian keeper Rob Tolfrey confronting a Rocks fan on the terraces, the victory took Bognor back into the top ten and left them just four points behind East Thurrock, who occupy the final play-off place.
And with a visit to East Thurrock next Tuesday, following on from Saturday’s home tussle with third-placed Dulwich Hamlet, manager Howell knows if his side can continue their unbeaten run, they’ll stay in with an outside shout of promotion.
He has promised fans he’ll use all the assets at his disposal – in particular the four out-and-out strikers he now has to choose from – to keep the season alive.
Howell said: “We played exceptionally well against Kingstonian but in the first half our final cross or shot was poor. We didn’t give the keeper a lot to save.
“We went in one down and it was a difficult team talk because we hadn’t been doing much wrong. But I told the lads to put their foot through the ball a bit more and not be frightened to shoot, and that paid off in the second half.
“Doug Tuck’s finish for the equaliser was tremendous. Dabba (Killpartrick) has been doing a lot of work with him in training to get him to shoot from long range and try to score more goals, and it was great to see that one go on.
“Dabba and I were talking and decided that although 1-1 would be a good result, we felt we could win it and didn’t have a lot to lose by going for it. So put we Terry and Callum on and it worked a treat.
“Terry flicked on a ball he had no right to get to and Callum, who looked brilliant for a 17-year-old, put in a good early cross that Ollie put away.
“So we had four strikers for the closing stages. It was brave and we could have lost but on this occasion it went our way. In the position we’re in, we can afford to push for wins when maybe others would be more cautious. We’ll do it again if the circumstances are right.”
The squad have been hit by two blows – forward Stuart Green has suffered a suspected calf tear and could be out for a fortnight or so, while defender Ryan Woodford has been recalled from a loan spell by Havant after a hugely-successful six weeks at Nyewood Lane.
But the other side of the Havant coin is that they may allow Perry Ryan – who had a decent spell at Bognor in the 2010-11 season – to join the Rocks on loan. He could fill in at right-back and allow Harvey Whyte to switch to a more forward role.
Get first news from Bognor v Dulwich Hamlet on this website on Saturday – ditto for East Thurrock v Rocks on Tuesday night