FA Trophy - Rocks skipper Prior: Wembley’s been mentioned a couple of times...

The Rocks put pressure on Torquay in their Trophy quarter-final / Picture by Tim Hale
The Rocks put pressure on Torquay in their Trophy quarter-final / Picture by Tim Hale
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Skipper Jason Prior says the Rocks believe they can carry on surprising higher-league opposition.

And he is hoping one more scalp – against Grimsby in the semi-final – can earn a trip to Wembley.

For him, a place in the final would be especially sweet after he missed the 2014 showpiece through injury while with Gosport.

Prior said the win over Torquay was another day to cherish for the team and the whole club and now everyone could look forward to a two-legged semi-final tussle with Grimsby with confidence.

“The dressing room was a bit lively afterwards - it’s been like that the last few rounds we’ve got through. But you’ve got to enjoy it while you can,” he told the Observer.

“I think we deserved to win it. I don’t think they caused us too many problems. When they had the wind in the first half there was a few long throws and set-pieces where they looked a little bit threatening, but in open play we were comfortable.

We can’t really believe we’re looking at a semi-final now. As the manager has said, we’re not renowned for doing too well in the FA Cup and FA Trophy recently, so it’s a turn-up for the books.

“We felt if we could get through the first half in one piece and then have the wind at our backs in the second half we had a real good chance.

“It was a great team effort. When your confidence is high, like ours is at the moment, it gives everyone a bit more impetus and we’re doing really well. Everyone knows their jobs inside out. We’re reaping the benefits.

“We can’t really believe we’re looking at a semi-final now. As the manager has said, we’re not renowned for doing too well in the FA Cup and FA Trophy recently, so it’s a turn-up for the books.

“But in all the games we’ve played this year I don’t think we’ve been battered or scraped a lucky win against anyone. We’ve fully deserve the wins throughout the run.

“I don’t know if it’s a case of others teams under-estimating us or not being used to the style of football we play, but we’ve more than held our own against them and it shows that if we finish the league campaign strongly and go up, next year we should have a good season.

The Rocks have gone into each test in the Trophy without fear and Prior said: “That’s what Jamie drills into us before we go out there. He’s more confident in us than anyone. With the way he sets us up he’s got to believe in what we’re doing.

“When everyone’s in it together and confident, we can beat anyone on our day.”

Missed any of the Rocks-Torquay action?

Here’s how the drama unfolded

Here’s a match report and video highlights

Here is a gallery of pictures by Tim Hale

This is Jamie Howell’s post-match interview

And here is the semi-final draw and reaction

Have the squad dared look beyond the semi-final? Wembley has been mentioned now a couple of times!” Prior said.

“The semi-final is two legs which will make it slightly more difficult and if we turn in two good performances we’ll have a really good chance of getting there.

“I was on loan at Gosport when they got to the FA Trophy final in 2014 but I wasn’t quite fit. It’s great for any club to get there –National League South clubs (like Gosport) don’t usually get there, so for us to do it from the Ryman League would be once in a lifetime, I think.”

Prior hopes the Trophy run can help keep Bognor’s league form strong. They are still fifth - and have numerous games in hand on their rivals.

“With the run we’re on at the moment, each win breeds confidence We take that into the next game and at the moment we’re doing it week in week out.

“This run has shown tour players can hold their own against higher teams. I should think there’ll be a little bit of interest in a few of the lads, which is only natural when we’re turning in the performances we are at the moment.”

Prior had a chance to open the scoring midway through the first half but was denied by a fingertip save by Daniel Lavercombe.

“It was going to creep inside the far post but he pulled off a good save. Then we had the ball in the net but it was disallowed for handball – but we kept going and got the goal,” he said.

STEVE BONE

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