Rocks will fight to end – but start planning for next season

The Rocks in action at Eastbourne / Picture by Tommy McMillan
The Rocks in action at Eastbourne / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Relegation-haunted Bognor have promised to keep battling until their fate is sealed – but say they are starting to think about next season’s line-up.

Full-back Kristian Campbell and centre-half Manny Adebowale have returned to their parent clubs Bromley and Dover as Bognor try to concentrate on players who will be with them for 2018-19.

It now looks almost certain to be a Bostik League premier-division campaign after Easter Monday’s defeat at Eastbourne Borough left them 13 points from safety with only seven games left.

That means they’d need to win five of their final seven even if Concord Rangers, the team they need to overtake to stay up, didn’t win any more games.

The loss at Eastbourne was an all-too-familiar tale of plenty of possession but no goals.

The match ended rather unpleasantly when Rocks coach Darin Killpartrick and Borough boss Jamie Howell – a pair who’d been in the Nyewood Lane dugout for eight years before Howell left last May – had to be separated as members of the two management teams shook hands after the final whistle.

Killpartrick admitted words were exchanged between him and Howell but said it was a private matter between them.

All in all it was another day to forget for the Rocks and their travelling fans but Killpartrick and manager Jack Pearce have both promised supporters they will keep going until the last ball of the season is kicked.

Killpartrick said: “We have seven games left and we’re playing for pride, really.

“Fans are still paying to come and watch us and my philosophy will always be to try to entertain them.

“We’ve not been successful in that respect this season through different reasons but all the time I’m employed by the club I will do everything I can to get the best out of the players.”

Pearce indicated that young midfielder Tommy Scutt would feature at Gloucester City on Saturday.

That’s a sign the Rocks want to start moulding a squad that can do well next season if, as expected, they are back in the top division of the Isthmian League.

Pearce thanked Campbell and Adebowale for their efforts for the club but said it made sense to return them to their clubs. The manager felt the Eastbourne loss was a game where the scoreline didn’t tell the full story.

“My understanding of the game is that eventually, if you have enough possession, you will score – but we are proving that to be inaccurate.

“We went into the game very attack-minded and before Eastbourne scored their first goal, we got into areas you dream of four times but didn’t make the most of the situations.

“Even at 2-0 down we still looked dangerous and missed a very good chance. I’m astonished at the ability we have in the squad that we can’t convert into goals and if that’s down to poor management I’m guilty.”

The Rocks have seven games to cram into the final 22 days of the season.

The game at home to Chelmsford – called off an hour before kick-off in Good Friday’s rain – will be played on Tuesday, April 24. After going to Gloucester this Saturday, the Rocks host St Albans next Tuesday.

STEVE BONE