Frustration for footballers shows no sign of ending

Pitches like this have been a familiar sight across Sussex in recent weeks
Pitches like this have been a familiar sight across Sussex in recent weeks

FRUSTRATED footballers are desperate for the weather to improve to put an end to weeks of all training and no matches.

West Sussex has been one of the worst-hit parts of the country in terms of the number of games postponed because of waterlogged pitches.

And there’s little sign of an improvement with the prospect of more rain today and over the weekend.

The lower down the leagues you look, the worse the fixture pile-up is getting – with division five central of the West Sussex League not having seen a single game played since December 14.

The Rocks have had a frustrating month – having played only three games in January, when they had been scheduled to play eight. Their disappointment is worsened by the fact they are on a five-match winning run and want to keep up the momentum.

The upshot is they now face playing at least 15 games in the next two months, including six midweek matches.

They have had two home games rained off in the past week – Billericay’s visit in the Ryman premier was washed out on Saturday and the Sussex Senior Cup tie against Eastbourne United went the same way on Tuesday.

Manager Jamie Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick have been trying to ensure they maintain their fitness levels with sessions on 3G pitches in the area and indoors at Bognor’s Fitness First gym.

Howell said: “It’s really frustrating for everyone.

“The players have been great in committing to training but that’s supposed to be a means to an end – playing matches – and there never seems to be a game at the end of it at the moment. We’ve used all the local facilities we’re can and we’re grateful for everyone’s help in doing so and we feel we’ve kept the boys pretty fit – generally they are very fit anyway.”

Killpartrick added: “The one thing we can’t control is the weather, but we’ve tried to do a few different things with the training – like a spinning session on the bikes at Fitness First – to keep it interesting.”

A week without games has not eased the Rocks’ defensive crisis, though.

An ankle injury suffered by Stuart Axten at Cray last week has coincided with the end of Louis John’s loan spell from Crawley. John has now been loaned to Sutton and Axten is still about a week away from fitness.

With Craig Robson still waiting for a match to sit out his one-game suspension, that leaves Dan Sackman as Bognor’s only fit and available centre-half for Saturday’s tough trip to Canvey Island.

Howell said: “We’re trying to bring someone in but it’s not easy. Ideally we’d just need to borrow someone, maybe for a month. We would have liked to bring Louis back but that’s not been possible.”

The Rocks expect a big test at Canvey Island, who, although they are in the bottom half of the table, will have in their minds the 5-0 hammering they suffered at Nyewood Lane in August.

Meanwhile the county cup tie with Sussex League side Eastbourne United is pencilled in for next Tuesday.

STEVE BONE

THE ROCKS’ PACKED PROGRAMME...

February

Sat 1 Canvey Island A

Tue 4 Eastbourne Utd (SSC) H

Sat 8 Thamesmead H

Sat 15 Hampton & Richmond A

Wed 19 Grays Ath A

Sat 22 AFC Hornchurch H

Mon 24 Hendon A

March

Sat 1 Enfield Town A

Tue 4 Billericay H

Sat 8 Dulwich Hamlet A

Tue 11 Met Police A

Sat 15 Leiston H

Sat 22 Bury Town A

Tue 25 Kingstonian H

Sat 29 Harrow Borough H