Rocks take pride - but could be more consistent

James Fraser tries to unlock the Havant defence for Bognor / Picture by Tim Hale

James Fraser tries to unlock the Havant defence for Bognor / Picture by Tim Hale

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Jamie Howell reflected on a positive first half of the season for the Rocks – but said: We could still be more consistent.

The manager is delighted the team have reached the turn of the year in second place in the Ryman premier after a summer when a squad rebuilding job was needed.

They underlined their ability to compete with the division’s best sides when they drew 1-1 with Havant & Waterlooville in an entertaining Boxing Day derby at Nyewood Lane – a game they might have won.

Now Howell takes his troops to visit Met Police on Saturday and Worthing on Monday (both 1pm kick-offs) urging them to maintain the high standards they have set themselves and perhaps find even greater consistency.

Against Havant, Bognor kept last season’s goal heroes Jason Prior and Alfie Rutherford, who both quit the Lane at the end of last season, very quiet. And Howell said that was just one reason why everyone connected with the Rocks should feel pride at their efforts so far this term.

“In the summer I felt we’d gone back six years in six weeks because of the players we lost and I’ll admit I was worried how this season would go,” he said.

In the summer I felt we’d gone back six years in six weeks because of the players we lost and I’ll admit I was worried how this season would go.

Jamie Howell

“Where we are now is credit to Dabba (Darin Killpartrick), the whole staff and maybe most of all, the players themselves.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to get us where we are now.

“But I still think we could be more consistent. We’ve not really had a blip – we’ve not lost three games in a row or anything – but sometimes we’ve got through with below-par performances.”

Howell said the squad had shown they could compete with the best sides, but warned it would be tough to stay in the top three.

That will especially be true if they are hit by more injuries like those that have led to so many team changes of late.

They head to Met Police on Saturday surprised to see the hosts fourth from bottom.

Howell said: “I know Jim Cooper, their manager, well and I think they’re better than their position suggests. They will make it hard for us.

“Then we go to Worthing’s 3G pitch on Monday and that’s like the Havant game in that it’s one the fans and everyone can’t wait to be played.”

Killpartrick believes that Worthing will provide a stiffer test than Havant. “They will have the advantage on that surface, and the scoreline in our previous game against them is irrelevant.”

Central defenders Gary Charman and Chad Field could feature after recovering from foot and hamstring injuries while striker Jimmy Muitt has a chance of playing after missing the Havant game with a tight groin.

In midfield, Lorenzo Dolcetti is over a thigh strain but Dan Beck needs more time after a hip flexor tear. Sami El-Abd and Jimmy Wild should be fine after knocks.

STEVE BONE

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