JASON PRIOR has returned to Margate and may face the Rocks on Saturday – but the club haven’t given up hope of him returning to Nyewood Lane in the future.
Bognor travel to face Prior’s club – who are top of the table – days after his month’s loan ended with him scoring the winner against Wingate & Finchley.
Prior’s four goals in four games for the Rocks could put him in contention to go straight into Margate’s team against Jamie Howell’s team, who are also set to be up against ex-skipper Kane Wills.
Howell said Prior’s month at Bognor had given the team exactly the boost he had hoped for – and he hoped the striker had shown the club’s younger players exactly what was expected of them in terms of work-rate and commitment to the cause.
“He could play against us on Saturday and it’ll be strange if he does,” Howell said. “Whether he will ever come back to us, I don’t know.
“He’s Margate’s player not ours – they’ve invested in him and he has a two-year contract with them.
“But it’s not impossible we will see him again at some point and I’d like to think that in the future, if Jason was looking to move, maybe closer to home, he’d recognise that it just seems to work when he plays for us.”
Prior’s departure does not leave Bognor short of forward options – Ollie Pearce, Stuart Green, Alex Parsons and Ashley-Paul Robinson have all been in decent form.
But Howell said he’d like to add more of a physical presence to his squad, something Prior gave them in both boxes during his stay.
The manager feels the club are only a couple of players away from being good enough to challenge for promotion. As it is, the 3-2 Wingate victory put them eighth, their highest position of the season, and they have improved significantly since losing their first four league games.
Howell said: “The atmosphere has been a bit flat this season but I don’t think we’re far away. I’d say we’re two players from really challenging.
“If we get those players and have a bit of luck we could challenge for the play-offs, but I’d concede that if things didn’t go our way, we could flirt with relegation.
“I was pleased by Saturday’s win.
“We had to show resilience after giving away another soft, simple goal but we rallied, and credit goes to the team for twice coming from behind and winning.
“I felt we were the most likely winners in the second half and Harvey Whyte, who’s been excellent since I switched him to right-back, did really well to get forward and set up the goal.”
Howell also praised winger Ben Johnson – who converted two first-half penalties and was involved in both being won.
Full-back Harry Medway has returned to Havant after Bognor kept him for the maximum three-month loan period, and midfielder Jake Thomson is banned for the Margate trip after accruing five bookings. But centre-half Craig Robson is back from suspension for the tussle with the title favourites and Charlie Oatway, playing despite needing a knee op at some stage, is likely to take Thomson’s place.
Howell said a draw would be a good result in Kent but the Rocks would approach the game in their usual positive way.
Coach Darin Killpartrick, celebrating a decade back at Nyewood Lane on the management team, praised the players for seeing off Wingate.
“We’d asked them to be more aggressive and positive in the final third and they were.
“It’s been a tough season so far but we’re surviving.
“We’ll miss Jason – he’s been a pleasure to have back at the club – but life goes on and we’ll look forward to taking on Margate.”
Get the first report from Margate v Rocks on this website on Saturday