THE ROCKS management surveyed their squad and said: We’ve got the players – now we must get the goals to kill off teams.
That might seem an odd demand for a team who have scored eight times in their past two outings, but manager Jamie Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick are concerned they are not taking enough of the many chances they are creating.
With a squad currently boasting on-loan Jason Prior, Ashley-Paul Robinson, Ollie Pearce, Alex Parsons and Stuart Green, scoring more is a priority so they start winning the tight Ryman premier games in which they have been dropping points.
It’s the whole team who have been challenged to put the ball in the net and the bosses were heartened to see five different players on thescoresheet in the 6-0 Sussex Senior Cup win over county-league Rustington on Tuesday night.
That victory – which could have seen them hit double figures – followed a 3-2 league defeat at Leiston when Bognor were not helped by a refereeing display boss Howell described as ‘inept’.
Saturday brings the start of this season’s FA Trophy campaign, with Ryman one north side Sudbury visiting Nyewood Lane in the first qualifying round and with Bognor enviously eyeing the success a number of southern clubs are enjoying in reaching the first round proper of this season’s FA Cup.
Howell said the defeat at Leiston did include positives but the Rocks were not helped by their preparation, which saw James Crane having to play the day after being taken to hospital with an allergic reaction.
“We had a good go at Leiston and tried to carry on the impetus Jason Prior had given us but it didn’t happen for us. Some of the decisions against disappointed me. I’m not someone who comlains a lot to or about officials but at the end, the ref wouldn’t speak to me.
“I thought he had been inept and he said he thought I was offensive. Their first goal was a yard and a half offside and the free-kick that led to their third simply wasn’t a free-kick. And we had a couple of very good penalty shouts.
“Against Rustington, we were obviously pleased to win well and get through but I told the players afterwards we wasted a lot of chances to score more. In the league, and the Trophy this weekend, we are going to get far fewer chances, so we have to take more.
“We have the players – not just strikers – who can score.”
Howell was pleased to see young players like wideman Ryan Morey and midfielder George Branford do well against Rustington and said Robinson’s two-goal performance was ‘excellent’. Howell has challenged Robinson to show he can get fitter and become a key part of the team.
Hopes the Rocks will yet see more of loan star Prior have not been dashed.
He is recovering well from a hamstring injury but can’t play in the Trophy this weekend – and his month ends soon after that, but Howell said: “We hope Margate will see the benefit of allowing Jason to stay longer, and I’d hope that if they did, he’d been happy to stay.”
Another striker, Alex Parsons, seems unlikely to recover from a thigh strain in time to face Sudbury but winger Ben Johnson could feature if he comes through training okay tonight. Defender Harry Medway won’t play because Havant don’t want him cup-tied.
Coach Killpartrick plans more work with the whole squad to get them to be ‘more clinical and aggressive’ in the opposition box.
“We’re creating lots of chances but we’ve got to finish more of them,” he said. “Everyone in the team needs to be aiming to score and I feel the Rustington game showed that although we have been scoring, we should be putting away more.”
The club are desperate for a run in the Trophy. Apart from the glory attached to a decent run, they will get £2,700 for winning in this round, and more for each victory – rising to £50,000 if they win it.
Howell said: “The Sudbury game will be tricky – the teams are quite unknown to one another – but as a club, we need to do better in the national competitions.”
Killpartrick added: “The FA Cup and FA Trophy are massive and I want to do well for myself as well as for the club and fans. I’d love us to get through a few rounds and start dreaming.”
by Steve Bone
Get first news of the Sudbury FA Trophy tie on this website