THE ROCKS have secured the services of Jason Prior for the rest of the season – and he could yet be partnering Terry Dodd up front.
Dodd is training at Nyewood Lane again after failing to settle with another club after leaving Bognor at the end of last season.
And although he is not match-fit at present, he is set to carry on training with the Rocks squad and could force his way into boss Jamie Howell’s plans if he does well.
It comes days after Prior phoned Howell to tell him his club Margate had made him available for a loan lasting the rest of the season.
Everyone thought the Rocks talisman had played – and scored in – his last game for Bognor in the 4-3 defeat at Leatherhead last Wednesday.
But Margate, having indicated earlier in the week a new loan was not on the cards, had a change of heart and have sent Prior back to Bognor until the end of the campaign.
That is a massive boost for Howell, who had been struggling to work out how he could replace Prior and give Ollie Pearce a new strike partner without disrupting a formation that has seen Alex Parsons and Stuart Green thrive in other forward roles.
Dodd’s return to the training pitch is a further boost but the fans’ favourite knows he will have to work hard to break back into the starting line-up.
The Rocks have also recruited experienced Havant & Waterlooville defender Ryan Woodford on a month’s loan to help patch up their depleted defensive ranks – and he impressed so much on a solid debut against Bury Town on Saturday that he was named man of the match.
All the good news on the recruitment front lifted much of the disappointment that came from a return of only one point from the past two games, when at least four points might easily have been taken.
A poor defensive showing, which Howell said was down to the whole team, not just the back four, meant fightbacks from 2-0 and 3-2 down at Leatherhead were in vain last Wednesday night, while a late Stuart Green strike was required to prevent bottom side Bury Town ending the Rocks’ three-month unbeaten home sequence on Saturday.
Howell said: “We’re disappointed to take only one point from the past two but weeks like that and games like that happen.
“At Leatherhead we had a back four who hadn’t planned together before but defended poorly as a team. We looked like we would get at least a point, then let in a sloppy injury-time goal.
“As for Bury, I think most people agreed they didn’t look like a team who were in bottom place. They were well-organised and hit us on the break. But we had chances and if we could have taken one of them at 0-0, it would have been a different game.
“To draw 1-1 after being one down and conceding a penalty late on isn’t so bad.”
Howell said Prior’s season-long loan was a huge bonus. “We didn’t expect it to happen. Margate had said he had to go back after the Leatherhead game, then had a change of plan. It prevents us having to replace a key player – it’s a hole we’d have struggled to fill.
“Terry Dodd trained with us on Tuesday night and will do so again. Things haven’t worked out for him too well since he left and he is popular here, so we’re happy to give him a chance. But he’s not match-fit at the moment.
“With Ollie scoring goals and players like Alex and Stuart playing well, that potentially gives us a healthy set of forward players.”
The Rocks head to Kent to face VCD on Saturday looking to end a run of five straight away defeats.
Full-back James Crane should be available after a sickness bug kept him out of the Leatherhead and Bury games, which leaves just longer-term absentees Ben Johnson, Daryl Wollers and Paul Hinshelwood unavailable.
Get the first report from VCD v Bognor on this website on Saturday