THE BUILD-UP to the Rocks’ showpiece end to the season has begun.
Tickets for the Sussex Senior Cup final at the Amex Stadium have gone on sale at Nyewood Lane today, sparking a clamour by fans keen to snap up their seats.
And with the final Ryman premier match out of the way, the management can focus on their preparations for the clash with Brighton’s development squad.
The good news is a host of players who have missed one or more recent games through injury – namely Dan Beck, James Crane, Jon Marzetti and Daryl Wollers – should all be fit for the final.
And striker Dan Thompson will be available despite his loan spell coming to an end.
The Rocks will find out from an x-ray whether winger Harvey Whyte is on course to recover from his broken collarbone in time to make the line-up.
But defender Sam Pearce – who has been on loan from Havant for the past couple of months – won’t still be at the Rocks for the Amex trip and looks to have played his last game in the green and white.
The Rocks finished their league campaign with two defeats in three days – 3-2 at Harrow and 1-0 at Hampton and Richmond – to finish 14th with 53 points.
Manager Jamie Howell said it meant they had achieved their aim of survival – but he wanted the team to kick on and challenge at the top end of the table next season.
Meanwhile, Howell and Darin Killpartrick have given the squad this week off to recover from the rigours of the season.
But they will be back in training next week for the countdown to the final.
Howell said: “I think our injuries will clear up nicely in time for the final and it’ll be good to put a strong team out. We obviously want to give Brighton a good game.
“It will be a great day for the club and we can really start to look forward to it now.
“I know the fans are looking forward to it and we will aim to do them proud.
“It’s a reward for everyone connected with the club for what’s been a long, hard season.”
The cup tickets went on sale yesterday. They’ll be sold from the office at Nyewood Lane from 10am to midday, Monday to Friday, right up to May 17.
Rocks secretary Simon Cook said: “Tickets bought through the club (Bognor) will be in a dedicated Rocks area. The club will also receive commission on tickets sold at Nyewood Lane.”
They will be £10 for adults and £5 concessions. Although tickets will be on sale at the Amex on the day, the ticket office will close at 1pm, two hours before kick-off.
VIP packages priced £35 are also available.
After the final, thoughts will turn to next season and Howell believes the squad is healthier for the next campaign than it was a year ago.
“A lot of players are under contract and so far none has indicated a desire to move on. And we’ve a good track record of bringing players on, and replacing those who do move,” he said.
“We will need to go out and recruit a couple of really quality players – people experienced at this level – but we have a good nucleus of a squad that will serve us well next season.
“People talk of having ‘survived’ this season but I want to do more than that. I want us to be challenging towards the top and with a good, young team who want to play, I believe we can.”
Killpartrick said: “We’d have taken 14th place if offered it at the start of the season. At one stage we could have gone second, but were so badly hit by injuries.”
Killpartrick, the 41-year-old head coach, made appearances as a substitute himself at Harrow and Hampton and did well, having kept himself in excellent shape.