Now Rocks have different kind of selection problem

Tommy Block on the attack for the Rocks against Braintree / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Tommy Block on the attack for the Rocks against Braintree / Picture by Tommy McMillan

They’ve had problems in front of goal all season – but now at least the Rocks have options up front.

Manager Jack Pearce goes into Saturday week’s vital game at home to St Albans with the choice of four potential forwards.

With fit-again Ollie Pearce having joined Jimmy Muitt and Ibra Sekajja in fighting for a place in the front-line in the past couple of weeks, Bognor are also set to welcome Icelandic teenager Stefan Ljubicic back to the squad.

The striker picked up a three-match ban after he was sent off an hour into his debut against Truro a month ago.

A choice of forwards is a nice problem for Pearce, who has seen his side struggle for goals since the first month of the season, to have.

It comes after another blank Saturday in front of goal left the Rocks 1-0 losers at Hampton last weekend.

A referee has one chance to see a challenge and then is pressurised by opposition players, fans and benches.

Jack Pearce

Pearce said. “I’ve lost count of the number of games we’ve been competitive in but have lost through a failure to take chances.

“Hampton was another.

“You’d not have known which side were near the top of the league and which were near the bottom, but when we got into goalscoring positions we failed to capitalise.

“They came on strong at the end and took their chance.”

Pearce had been considering pitching Ljubicic back into the starting line-up against St Albans this weekend but the game was called off when the Nyewood Lane pitch was left frozen and under snow on Friday.

Ljubicic’s return is not the only piece of good news to lift the mood after the defeat at Hampton.

Skipper Sami El-Abd’s red card – shown late in the defeat at the Beveree – has been rescinded.

The Rocks looked at video evidence of the aerial challenge late in the match that saw him ordered off and decided they had a case.

The FA have withdrawn the card, so El-Abd is free to face St Albans this weekend.

It’s a relief for the club, who’d already seen their players shown four red cards in the first seven games of 2018.

Manager Pearce said: “A referee has one chance to see a challenge and then is pressurised by opposition players, fans and benches.

“The video showed Sami had his eye on the ball and did not use an elbow. It’s the right decision.”

Despite Saturday’s setback, spirits in the Rocks camp remain high with the players determined to keep battling for the results that could get them out of trouble.

Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “We’re still working so hard to get out of this and I can promise fans we’ll carry on fighting. On Tuesday night we were training in temperatures of –6C.

“We were out there working on areas that we hope we can turn around results.”

Only long-term injured quartet James Crane, Corey Heath, Chad Field and Dan Beck remain in the treatment room, though full-back Calvin Davies has another two games of a ban to serve.

STEVE BONE