Calvin Davies says Bognor can take plenty of positives despite losing 1-0 in the first leg of their FA Trophy semi-final with Grimsby - and believes they can go to Blundell Park with plenty of hope.
The on-loan Pompey academy defender was rightfully voted man of the match as the Rocks lost the home leg 1-0 despite a battling performance (see video highlights here by Football Exclusives).
He was delighted with his efforts – although did take part of the blame for the route-one goal that Grimsby scored – and said the team still felt they had every chance of reaching the final.
Davies, who has been outstanding since arriving on loan from Fratton six weeks ago and has helped Bognor overcome Sutton and Torquay to reach the Trophy semis, said: “For the first half or even the first 60 minutes, everyone was trying to work each other out and see what each other was doing.
“But after that I think we kicked on and created more chances. I think they had two shots in the second half and we must have had four or five. We had more possession than them and should have taken advantage. That was our downfall.
“We’re a passing team and you have to stretch them wide as much as you can, and play up and in between them and get it wide. That was the objective for us really.
“In the second half I think we were on top. But we’ve been caught out by one long ball and it was a lapse of concentration by me - I missed the ball.”
Davies was behind some of the Rocks’ best attacking play, getting forward from right-back, and said he had enjoyed taking on another higher-division team.
“Sometimes you’ve got to mix it up and get an early delivery in and go at them. I’m quite small and agile so that can be quite difficult for the big lads at the back to defend against,” he said.
“The tie is definitely not dead. We’ll go up to Grimsby and give it a right shot and see if we can get into the final at Wembley.
“Obviously everyone is disappointed with the result but they’re a National League side and I think we represented ourselves in the right manner.
“We didn’t give Grimsby too much respect and we gave it a right go and were unlucky to come away with a 1-0 defeat.
“They’ve got some good players and experienced players but we matched them.
“A lot of people saw us as the underdogs by a few leagues. But we showed them we are not the underdogs and we feel we can take them back up to Grimsby and give them a go.”
Bognor will travel to Cleethorpes on Saturday buoyed by the fact they have already beaten National League premier sides Altrincham and Torquay on the way to this stage.
“Our confidence grows as the season goes on,” Davies added. “We’re fifth place in the league with something like six games in hand on the top teams and in the Trophy we keep playing higher opposition. That’s great for the lads and we have taken the chance.”
Bognor will have the advantage in the second leg of having seen how the Mariners play.
Davies said: “They get narrow, they get across the pitch, when we have the ball on one side they get across and cut the other half off. They cover 50 per cent of the pitch and leave the furthest men away.
“I think maybe if we can move the ball a little bit quicker and be more confident like we normally would in a league game, we’ll see what they’re all about.
“They’ve come here, they’ve done well but I’d say we’ve done better and I think we’ll give them a good game in the second leg.”
Davies said he was loving life at Bognor as he took the chance to get regular senior football which should benefit his aim of making the first-team grade at Fratton Park. He has joined two other Pompey youngsters, Snorre Nilsen and Chad Field, in the Nyewood Lane squad.
“I’m trying to earn my way towards getting a professional contract at Portsmouth, but there is an experienced pro in the same position at me at Portsmouth. I’ll keep working hard and hopefully I’ll be given an opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve been given a chance so far and hopefully I’ll keep showing them what I can do here and show them what I’m all about.
“For me the Trophy run has been good because we’ve playing higher opposition and that’s what I want to do with Portsmouth eventually. Playing against players who have played league football and in foreign countries is a great opportunity and you’ve got to give it your all.”
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