Three away defeats in five days didn’t tell the full story of Bognor’s promotion-battle blip.
Losses at Enfield, Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian all but put paid to lingering hopes they could win the title - though Wednesday night’s excellent 4-0 success at Burgess Hill has put Bognor back on track in the promotion race.
Management have praised players and fans for the way they have gone about the ridiculous recent schedule of games – and have vowed a play-off place is still very much in their own hands.
Their visit to Burgess Hill was their fourth away game in seven days – and their eighth game in 16 days.
The Rocks are being punished for success earlier in the season in the FA Cup and FA Trophy, where each round they got through saw another league game postponed.
Manager Jamie Howell has described how difficult it has been getting a team out every second day for a game, especially with so many of the fixtures being many miles away.
It’s no-one’s fault but this is not the Bognor team who have been up there all season.Jamie Howell
“We’re still giving a good account of ourselves, but it’s difficult mentally and physically,” he said.
“It feels like seven months of hard work is all being put on the line in games crammed into three weeks.
“We’re going into really important matches with no preparation time and with a skeleton squad, and are having to use players who shouldn’t be playing.
“It’s no-one’s fault but this is not the Bognor team who have been up there all season.”
Players including Doug Tuck, Gary Charman, Dan Beck and Craig Robson have all picked up injuries and not had time to get over them properly. Many players are picking up muscular problems.
Howell said: “The players have been brilliant. They’re giving everything. Some have played in every one of these games.”
Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “Not one of them has moaned. We’re pulling together as a club and trying to rise to the challenge. The same goes for the fans, who have been magnificent.”
At least the Rocks can now look forward to four of the final five games being at home – starting with the visits of Leatherhead on Saturday and Wingate & Finchley next Tuesday.
They head into Saturday’s game in fourth place.
Howell still hopes Brighton loan striker Chike Kandi may be available again soon to boost attacking options.
He has been out since the first leg of the Grimsby tie, when he suffered an ankle injury.
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