ROCKS REVIEW: Striker leaves but buoyed Bognor look to the future

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CRISIS? What crisis? – A renewed, buoyed mood surrounds The Rocks days after the departure of striker Ashley-Paul Robinson and having fired another blank against Cray.

What a difference a few days makes, with any goalscoring worries put behind them at East Thurrock on Tuesday where Bognor fired four and earned a point from a real thriller.

Much has been made of the current lack of goals at the club and, with a 2-0 defeat at home to Cray – who conceded nine in their previous match – at the weekend, it was the ninth time this season Rocks have failed to score in a total of eight defeats,

Robinson’s exit, which was announced on Monday, along with that of Jordan Clarke, as travel from London had become too much to juggle with new work commitments, was the worst time to lose a forward with the then ongoing goal drought.

With Terry Dodd also still on loan at East Preston and no goals in three consecutive defeats, one could wonder where the next goal was coming from, but a youthful Rocks responded in the perfect way on Tuesday evening.

Two goals from Pompey loanee Dan Thompson, along with a strike each from Ollie Pearce and Harvey Whyte, earned them their first point in four games from a side in which everyone was under 23 years of age.

Rocks boss Jamie Howell said: “I was really disappointed to lose Ashley. He’s been a good player for us, really excellent, but with work commitments making life difficult and I had one eye on next year and did not think the situation was going to get any better.

“It’s disappointing but we have to move on and we will.

“Saturday was the worst performance in the whole time since I have been here, and it was bad all across the pitch.

“Our problem all season has been scoring goals and when you lose a player of Ashley’s ilk that has been scoring it’s always going to be problematic.

“But hopefully we’ll have Terry Dodd back fitter and sharper and Dan Thompson looked good last night, so we’re hoping it’ll happen between them up top.”

Howell is hopeful to have Louis John back in contention this weekend, while Ben Andrews could return from injury the following week to add some strength to the back four.

The Rocks management are looking forward to blending the experienced pair with the promising youth section as they build for the future.

Howell added: “We are buoyed. I think what’s really pleasing, is that recently we have problems with goals being scored, but we have a lot of young players and it’s about finding time to play them and get them the experience.

“We’re conceding what I call naïve goals as we are playing people out of position and when you’re missing the experience of players like Ben and Louis it’ll happen as they are men.

“But with them back and mixing them with the youngsters, that is what I am aiming for, for the future.”

Robinson, who joined Bognor last January, and had played a major role in assisting them back into the Ryman Premier Division, is expected to sign for Merstham, although he will do so with a heavy heart.

The former Crystal Palace and much-travelled player, who seemed to have finally settled, said: “I did not want to leave the club where I have been so happy. However, once it became clear that my job might be in jeopardy it was out of my hands.

“I have enjoyed every moment at Bognor and wish the club every success”.

The striker added that his best wishes be passed on to all at the club and particularly the fans who have taken him to their heart.

Rocks now travel to Bury Town on Saturday – a team who sit just two places behind Bognor in tenth with just a point less.