Jamie Howell leads the Rocks into the biggest week of their season telling fans and players: Enjoy it.
With three league games to go, Bognor lead Havant by one point in the race for the Ryman premier title – and the rivals meet atHavant on Easter Monday.
Before then the Rocks host Harlow, needing to win to make sure they go to West Leigh Park still ahead of Lee Bradbury’s team in the bid to claim the sole automatic promotion place.
Whoever finishes second will go into a home semi-final play-off and still be two wins away from promotion.
The Rocks – who won 4-0 at AFC Sudbury last Saturday – are not worrying about the Havant trip until the Harlow game. Saturday’s Nyewood Lane tussle comes 24 hours after Havant play their next game, away to struggling Canvey Island.
Howell says although it will be a tense end to the season, he hopes all involved can enjoy it.
At the moment our focus is on Harlow. It will be a difficult game – they are physically strong and very experienced.Jamie Howell
“I was pleased when we beat Sudbury because it meant there would be something riding on the Havant game. That should be a great spectacle for both clubs’ sets of fans.
“But at the moment our focus is on Harlow. It will be a difficult game – they are physically strong and very experienced.
“We’ve not had a chance to think much about the Havant game but we will deal with that once the next game is out of the way.
“We now know we will either finish first or second. I don’t want to finish second – no-one does – but if that happens I don’t want to hear talk that’s a disappointment. It will still be a hell of an achievement after the rebuilding we had to do after last season.
“These are big games and I want the players, staff and fans to enjoy them.”
His thoughts were echoed by coach Darin Killpartrick, who said: “This is why everyone loves sport, and loves football. We’re going into the final three games with the chance of the title and if people had said at the start of the season that would happen, most would have replied ‘No chance’.”
Howell was delighted with the win at Sudbury, the perfect response to the previous week’s 1-0 loss at Enfield, and praised hat-trick hero Jimmy Muitt.
“I think we’re seeing the best of Jimmy now,” Howell said. “He took his time to show his very best for us –he’s still young and was coming back from a serious injury – but we challenged him to weigh in with more goals and assists and we’re seeing those now.”
The Rocks have one or two niggly injury worries ahead of Harlow’s visit but nothing serious. Players like Chad Field and James Fraser are set to be available despite recent injuries, while even the likes of Dan Beck and Gary Charman – suffering with hip and Achilles problems respectively – could play if needed.
Howell has been delighted with the way the likes of Charman and Darren Budd – who scored a terrific fourth goal at Sudbury – have played their part in the season without ever nailing down a regular starting spot.
And he now has another option in midfield with the emergence of teenager Tommy Block, who came on and did well at Sudbury.
“I’ve known Tommy for some time and I rate him,” Howell said. “He will be an important part of the squad next season.”
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