Howell hoping for positive Rocks start

Billy Granger in action for Rocks in their friendly against Portsmouth
Billy Granger in action for Rocks in their friendly against Portsmouth

Jamie Howell looked ahead to Saturday’s Ryman League Premier curtain-raiser with Lowestoft at Nyewood Lane and said: “Everyone is ready to go now.”

Bognor had an exceptional season last time out, falling short of the title by just a point before losing in the play-off semi-finals.

As well as that magical league finish, Rocks also reached the final four of the FA Trophy.

A turbulent summer has seen several of last year’s squad depart Nyewood Lane but after reshaping his side Howell has every belief his side are ready.

He said: “We had such a good season last year and it may well be difficult to top.

“Obviously, we lost a few over the summer, which has been well documented but I’ve been able to recruit well.

“It all kicks off at Nyewood on Saturday and hopefully we’ll be able to pick up the three points.

“Lowestoft came down from the National League North but we beat them on our FA Trophy run.

“You never know how teams will react after coming down. Sometimes there can still be a bit of a hangover from the last year or they may have a new hungry team.

“We’ll just focus on ourselves and try to perform the best we can.”

Following such a successful season, Howell admits it may well be difficult to top it this term.

After ending the 2013/14 season in third, Rocks could only follow that up with a 14th placed finish a year later.

A similar exodus came after a top-three finish then, with Howell knowing how tricky it will be to back last year’s heroics up.

He added: “Sometimes it goes in cycles and it can be hard to follow such an exceptional season up.

“Were a little bit of an unknown at the minute, we’ve done some really good things in pre-season but then some not so great things as well.

“Looking back to that summer after we finished third, a lot of players left and we had to rebuild.

“The following season was a struggle and we failed to match what we had done the year before.”

Bognor’s search for a goalkeeper seems to have come to an end after Billy Granger agreed to a deal earlier this week.

Granger, who played for Rocks in their friendly with Portsmouth, has an illustrious CV having turned out for Chelsea, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur at youth level.

Having failed to break through at any of those sides, Howell is delighted to now have him on board.

He said: “I’ve been really impressed by Billy and we’re pleased to have him sign for us.

“After losing Grant Smith earlier this summer we’ve been on the look out for a new goalkeeper.

“We’ve had a real look over the close season at a few but Billy really stood out for me.

“It’s a unique place to come for many keepers here as I like them to be capable with the ball.

“We like to pass it out so it can be difficult for someone to fit the bill but I’m hopeful Billy will be good for us.”

Rocks have also brought in Brighton under-23 pair Dylan Bartlett and Jason Davies on initial one-month deals.

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