THE ROCKS cemented their place in the top ten with their first five-goal show of the season – but have warned to cut out the mistakes in order to keep on improving.
Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over Witham – which saw Jason Prior scored his 100th goal for the club – was their highest-scoring game of the campaign to date and was hugely entertaining for fans.
But the management were concerned at the way the Rocks allowed Witham back into the game after going 4-0 up inside half an hour, and said that on another day, their defensive lapses would have cost them points.
The midweek victory, their fifth in six home league games, came after they just failed to take a point from Saturday’s visit to second-placed Maidstone.
The win left the Rocks just four points off Leiston, who occupy the bottom spot in the play-off zone. A consistent Christmas and New Year period could put the Rocks in that top five – but in a tight division, a sudden loss could push them back down in the bottom half of the league.
Prior grabbed a lot of the glory on Tuesday night but the win was all about a sparkling attacking display in which everyone played their part.
Ollie Pearce, Stuart Green and Doug Tuck were all on the scoresheet while Alex Parsons won more plaudits for the service he gave the strikers.
The Rocks’ abundance of talent up front has seen Ashley-Paul Robinson move on. He has signed for Ryman one south side Hastings after failing to nail down a starting spot at Nyewood Lane.
Howell had mixed feelings after the Rocks’ latest run-outs.
“At Maidstone we could have got a point and I was disappointed to lose. Against Witham, you’ve always got to be happy with a 5-2 win but we did make it hard for ourselves for a spell when we allowed them to pull it back to 4-2.
“We are still making individual errors and it’s something we have to cut out.
“Strangely it can be difficult after you start a game so well. It was the same when we went 3-0 up against Hendon in the last home game. When a team concedes a few they’re likely to throw caution to the wind and come at you, and if they score it’s a different game.
“At half-time on Tuesday I told the lads to carry on playing their normal game and credit to them, they did and got the fifth and we were fine.”
Howell praised the influence Prior had had on the team and results since he had come back on loan, but said the rest of the team were certainly doing their bit in a run of form that’s in stark contrast to the struggles of early season.
“I was delighted for Jason passing 100 goals, and remember those have come in fewer than 150 games. He’s an exceptional player and he makes scoring goals look easy. He’s putting away the type of chances others were missing earlier in the season.
“Quality players like playing alongside quality players and it’s showing throughout the team. Ollie, Stuart and Alex are all playing well but we have a lot of players in good form and have to do what we can to make sure we carry on in that vein.
“It’s nice to be where we are in the table but it’s very tight – we have to keep winning games.”
Enfield, one of the sides just above Bognor in the group pushing for a top-five spot, visit Nyewood Lane on Saturday and Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick expect another tricky encounter.
Killpartrick said: “Hopefully we have learned from the defensive mistakes we have made in the past two games and can start to be more solid.
“The first half at Maidstone was as well as we’d played all season and I felt we were worthy of a draw. Witham was such an open game – it could have finished 7-7. Even at 5-2 up I was concentrating on our defensive shape.”
Winger Ben Johnson’s fitness continues to be monitored after a knee injury but he came through an appearance off the bench on Tuesday without problems.
Left-back Daryl Wollers has at last had his hip operation but now faces a lengthy spell of recovery.
James Crane was a late withdrawal from Tuesday’s team after problems from a foot gash he suffered at Maidstone.
See a report from the Enfield clash on this website on Saturday evening