Rocks will enjoy being top - but won’t stop working

Jimmy Wild tries to find a way through the Bognor defence / Picture by Tim Hale
Jimmy Wild tries to find a way through the Bognor defence / Picture by Tim Hale
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The Rocks are enjoying being Ryman premier top dogs – but insist being in pole position in November will mean nothing if they don’t keep up the hard work that’s got them there.

It’s believed to be the first time they have topped this league since the opening day of the 2003-04 season.

We’ve worked hard to get there and full credit goes to the players for what they have achieved so far.

Jamie Howell

They reached the summit on Saturday with a 3-1 home win over Wingate and Finchley and stayed there on Tuersday night when Leiston - who could have leapfrogged them - lost at Folkestone.

Bognor will be top at least until next Tuesday, when they play their next game – at Hendon – and while manager Jamie Howell said everyone should enjoy being first they should not get carried away with it.

“We’ve worked hard to get there and full credit goes to the players for what they have achieved so far,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone at the start of the season expected us to top the table at any stage so it’s a great position to be in. But it’s very close at the top and in this league you can have a losing run as easily as you can have a winning run.

“That’s not being negative about it, that’s the reality of the league. Many people thought Havant would win the league this season and they are close behind us and are probably still favourites to go on and win it.

“But we have shown we are a force to be reckoned with and we must now aim to keep up those standards and see where it takes us.”

The Rocks are in the middle of a ten-day break between games. This Saturday should have seen them host Needham Market but the Suffolk side are in FA Trophy action.

But next Tuesday’s visit to Hendon marks the start of a hectic run of eight games in 26 days, including three in a row away from home.

By Tuesday, Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick hope to have midfielder Dan Beck and winger Alex Parsons fit again after hip flexor and hamstring problems, which would leave just longer-term casualties Harvey Whyte (knee) and Gary Charman (ankle) on the sidelines.

Howell was happy with his team’s efforts in beating Wingate - which they did through goals by Ollie Pearce, Jimmy Wild and top scorer James Fraser - and said he had mixed feelings about having no game this weekend.

Howell said: “On one hand it would be good to play again after a win, when you always feel you can get some momentum going, but on the other, it gives us time to get people like Dan and Alex fitter.

“It means we’ll go to hendon next Tuesday fresh and hopefully that will work in our favour.”

Killpartrick praised the squad for the work they’d put in to get to the top of the league, but said the players knew they would not be allowed by the coaching staff to have any time to reflect on what they’d done so far.

He said: “It’s an incredible achievement to be where we are at the moment and one we should all be proud of. We just have to carry on in the same vein – there’s no reason to change our attitude or approach and we won’t.

“This squad is a good group of lads. They like each other and work for each other. They’ve all bought into what we try to do at the club.

“It will be great to have Dan and Alex back because the fixture list for the next few weeks looks like mayhem!”

STEVE BONE

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