Rocks draw praise - and get a warning ahead of FA Trophy clash

Joe Cook has helped steady the Rocks ship in recent weeks, when the team have secured five straight away wins / Picture: Tommy McMillan
Joe Cook has helped steady the Rocks ship in recent weeks, when the team have secured five straight away wins / Picture: Tommy McMillan

Jack Pearce and Robbie Blake praised the commitment and character of their players that has secured five straight away wins – but warned them to keep their recent standards up in a hectic run of games coming up.

Tuesday night’s 4-1 win away to SCFL side Storrington in the Sussex Senior Cup was expected, but nevertheless was a fifth victory on the road since the Rocks last played at home.

The next batch of games includes a glut of Nyewood Lane fixtures and Pearce and Blake say it’s important the team don’t rest on their laurels, and they show their home crowd recent results are no fluke.

Bognor had to call off last Saturday’s scheduled Isthmian premier clash at home to Enfield because of extreme wet and windy weather and the fixtures are piling up.

They host fellow Isthmian premier team East Thurrock in the FA Trophy second qualifying round on Saturday then visit Margate in the league on Tuesday – provided neither Bognor nor Margate need a Trophy replay.

The next two Saturdays bring home Isthmian tussles with Merstham and Brightlingsea Regent.

Boss Pearce was pleased with the SSC win and said: “It was a good workout for us because Storrington had nine, ten or 11 men behind the ball for much of the game and we had to work hard and think about how to get behind them. We persevered and showed a good attitude. I was delighted by our work ethic and movement.

“If there was one weakness it was in some of our decision-making when we got to the final third. When you dominate teams you have to play the right pass at the crucial time and we didn’t always do that. But it’s five away wins in a row and that’s very pleasing.

“We were upset to call off Saturday’s home game but we now have a number of home matches coming up and we need to continue what we’ve been doing away from home.

“It would be nice for the club and the fans to have a little run in the FA Trophy. It can make some useful money. East Thurrock are going well in our league but when we went to their place and lost we were conceding a lot of avoidable goals.”

Midfielder Tommy Scutt, who came off at Storrington with a hip injury, is doubtful for Saturday while forward Victor Hensel is recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

But otherwise there’s a clean bill of health and the Rocks hope to have Pompey trio Brad Lethbridge, Josh Flint and Joe Dandy available.

Midfielder Flint drew particular praise from Pearce, who said: “He looks like he has what it takes to be a very, very good player.”

Coach Blake is looking for the confidence taken from recent wins, which before Tuesday had come at Folkestone, Kingstonian, Uxbridge and Bowers and Pitsea, to be evident in home performances.

“From where we were six or seven weeks ago we’ve made giant strides, but now’s not the time to rest,” Blake said.

“We have to keep pushing on. We have the nucleus of a very good side and want to go into Christmas and the new year really challenging.

“We were losing games through individual errors but at the minute, we’ve ironed those out.

“The lads have shown great character and determination to get out of the position we were in.”

The Rocks have been quick to find a new date for the home game with Enfield washed out last Saturday.

It will be played on Tuesday, December 3 (7.45pm).

In fact December is looking busier by the minute with a Velocity Trophy tie away to Folkestone added to the itinerary for Saturday, December 21.

* The Nyewood Lane fireworks display – postponed last Sunday because of bad weather – will now take place on Friday, November 22. Gates open at 5pm.