Rocks target another fairytale FA Trophy run

Bognor boss Jamie Howell. Picture: Tim Hale
Bognor boss Jamie Howell. Picture: Tim Hale
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Bognor boss Jamie Howell looked ahead to Saturday’s return to FA Trophy action and said: “Let’s go on another memorable run.”

Rocks shocked many non-league followers by reaching the semi-final of the competition last season.

Defeat over two-legs to now League Two outfit Grimsby Town prevented them from a dream final at Wembley, but nevertheless it was a remarkable achievement reaching the final four.

Bognor return to the tournament for the first time since that semi-final defeat with a first-round qualifying encounter at Southern League Premier Division outfit Slough Town.

Slough currently sit second in the table, suffering just two league defeats all season.

Howell knows the management team at Slough very well and feels his side will have to put in a top performance if they are to progress.

He said: “What we achieved in this competition last season was incredible but it starts from fresh now.

“From last year’s team, a lot of changes have been made and we know it’s going to be tough to emulate what we did last season.

“I don’t know too much about Slough as a team but I do know a lot about the management at the club.

“They are all really nice guys and I always keep an eye out for them as I know a few people at Slough.

“Slough are flying at present, so we know how tough it is going to be.”

Rocks are currently suffering an injury crisis with three definitely out for Saturday’s trip.

Gary Charman, who suffered a broken foot in the defeat at Lowestoft on Saturday, is likely to be out for two to three months. Along with defenders, both Alex Parsons (hamstring) and Dan Beck (hip flexor) missing the FA Trophy tie.

And Bognor’s current injury list is something that is frustrating Howell at present.

He added: “When it rains it pours and we have so many injuries at the minute. At Lowestoft on Saturday we were missing five or six, which was really frustrating.

“I’m trying to get a team out but our injury list at the moment is quite large and it has been tough.

“We’ll be without Gary, Dan and Alex, while Jimmy Wild, Jimmy Muitt, Calvin Davies and James Fraser will all be trying to get back for the game against Slough.”

With Charman expecting an extended stay on the sidelines with a broken foot, Howell knows just how big of a miss he will be.

He said: “Gary and Sami El-Abd have built quite a formidable partnership at the back. I’m quite fortunate as I’ve got Chad Field to come in, but that does not take away how much of a miss Gary will be.”

As well as those injuries, Howell is still uncertain as to whether goalkeeper Dan Lincoln will be available for Saturday’s game.

After receiving a call from the stopper on Tuesday, Howell allowed him to play for Braintree Town in their National League victory at Woking.

With Lincoln not under contract, there was nothing stopping him from playing in the game but Howell is unaware on his availability for Rocks from now on.

He said: “I received a call from Dan asking if I would allow him to play for Braintree as they have a slight goalkeeper crisis at the minute.

“He’s not under contract with us, so I said that was fine and he played for them at Woking on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure where that leaves us now with regards to his availability moving forward. Myself and Dan will have a chat at some point before Saturday’s game and then I will be better placed.

“Dan has been brilliant for us and could easily play at a higher level, so I would not stand in his way.”

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