Jack Pearce promised to do everything in his power to turn around the Rocks’ poor run of form – and said he had every confidnece that his hard-working players were committed to halting the slump.
Defeats at Wealdstone (3-0) and Hemel Hempstead (3-1) in the past week have left Bognor 18th in the National League South table with only one point gained from their past five games.
Pearce, who has come in for criticism from some fans for resuming his role as team boss after a ten-year gap, said he was as determined as anyone to make a success of the season and ensure the Rocks did not go straight back down to the Isthmian League.
His comments after the latest defeat followed on from a two-hour fans’ forum on Sunday when he spoke of the difficulties facing the club in trying to survive in the National League and of his determination to improve on recent results.
The Rocks’ form is the polar opposite of the way they began the season. They started with two wins and two draws, scoring 14 goals in those four games. But the seven games since have resulted in two draws and five losses – and just three goals scores.
They take a break from league action this Saturday when they host fellow NLS side Weston-super-Mare in the second qualifying round, where a win would earn the club £4,500 in prize money and leave them just two wins from the first round proper.
Pearce admitted these were tough times at Nyewood Lane but said: “Football’s always tough. I love winning and I also love a challenge and this is certainly a challenge, an immense one for everyone connected to the club.
“I said in the summer the true test for us this season would come in everyone’s response to losing games, and that’s what we’re faced with now.
“We have to work smartly. We have funds, but not great funds, and we know we need to bring in two or three players who can give us a lift and get us winning games.
“It’s worth remembering no-one in our squad was playing at National League South level last season – not one. We always knew we’d have to wait to use the loan system and that’s what we’re now attempting to do.
“We’re talking to Football League and non-club leagues – all clubs above our own level – to try to bring in players.
“But what I would say is that I’ve got immense appreciation to the players we already have. They performed a miracle getting us promoted and are all trying their best this season.
“I’d be really upset and down in the dumps if I thought they weren’t trying, but they’re giving their all. Some are making errors and we’re finding that in the National League, these will get punished.”
Pearce said there were similarities in the defeats at Wealdstone and Hemel in that Bognor had some very good spells before being undone by avoidable free-kicks to put them on the back foot.
“The players were disspirited after both games and it’s my job to lift them. Strengthening the squad is part of that and over the next six weeks we will get injured players back to full fitness and hopefully get new players in and see the effect that has,” he said.
At Sunday’s fans’ forum Pearce insisted he got on well with his coaching staff and players and had no plans to stand down as manager. But he did say things would be reviewed in six weeks if things didn’t pick up or player unrest became evident.
He also told of how many clubs across the south had struggled to survive at National South level but how he was putting everything in seeing if Bognor could do so – and perhaps even get to the National Premier one day.
They could get one boost on Saturday with young centre-half Corey Heath a contender to return after ankle trouble. But striker Jimmy Muitt, scorer from the spot at Hemel, could be a doubt after picking up another ankle injury of his own in that game.
Pearce added: “Just about everyone else is fit – although the manager has a broken heart!”
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