AN INJURY crisis is threatening to derail the Rocks’ late bid for a play-off place.
They have three key men out long-term, another five hit by knocks and niggles – and little prospect of being able to bring in any more reinforcements.
The congested treatment has probably been a factor in the team collecting only one point from two games in the past week, and although that below-par return has not put them out of what promises to be an exciting play-off race, manager Jamie Howell knows he needs to patch up some of his troops fast to get results back on track.
Already without longer-term absentees Ben Johnson (knee), Daryl Wollers (hip) and Paul Hinshelwood (knee), the Rocks have played the past two games without forwards Ollie Pearce (ankle) and Stuart Green (calf) and midfielder Doug Tuck (groin).
Utility player Harvey Whyte hobbled out of Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Grays with a knee injury that’s set to keep him out for at least four weeks, while the player who has replaced him at eight-back, Pompey Academy youngster Snorre Nilsen came off at Hampton on Tursday after a whack on the calf.
Howell is hoping Nilsen and Tuck might be fit on Saturday, but Green is another week or so away and Pearce will be on the sidelines for another three weeks.
It’s left numbers having to be made up with more youngsters and new arrivals that bosses would like.
Howell said: “It’s a nightmare, and a real shame because we had got ourselves into a good position with a decent run of results, and now we’ve stalled somewhat.
“We’ve brought in one or two from Pompey and we’re grateful to them as ever but I can’t see us being able to get anyone else in. We’ll have to make do with the fit players we have.”
One of the arrivals from Fratton Park is forward Jack Maloney, released by the League Two club after ten appearances. He made his Bognor debut in the 1-1 draw at Hampton and could be a key man in the remaining games.
It’s a nightmare, and a real shame because we had got ourselves into a good position with a decent run of results.Jamie Howell
Howell said a failure to take chances, coupled with making it too easy for Grays to score, led to Saturday’s defeat, while he felt 1-1 was a fair result at Hampton, where the Rocks needed a 90th-minute header by Dan Sackman to cancel out a Beavers opener that had come just three minutes earlier.
“We did okay in the first half against Hampton but the game was devoid of much quality. Pitches are tough at the moment and we’re not as fluent as we’d like to be.
“We’re having to field a team who have not played together before and it’s tough.”
Despite the tricky week, Bognor remain just three points behind Met Police, who occupy the final play-off place and visit Nyewood Lane on Saturday week. But with so many sides still chasing that spot, it may need a record of five or six wins in the final seven games to sneak in.
The Rocks go to 21st-placed Witham on Saturday, when they know they will come up against another side fighting for survival and a less-than-impressive pitch.