Bognor’s bosses are demanding their players show the club’s fans they can do much, much better than in the derby defeat at Worthing.
Manager Jack Pearce and coach Robbie Blake said too many of the team were ‘miles off it’ in the 3-0 defeat at Woodside Road - and said Saturday’s home league clash with Carshalton was the perfect occasion to show a response.
The Rocks’ return of four points from the first four games has left them 17th and Pearce was so alarmed at Monday’s defeat it prompted him to pick out three players to criticise for mistakes, ‘disgraceful’ play - saying one played like he’d been picked up at a bus stop on the way to the match.
Fans were devastated at a rare defeat to the Rebels - who last beat Bognor in April 2012 but were left celebrating their biggest win over the Rocks since 1985.
Pearce said: “Whenever you lose 3-0 the easy thing is to say you’re not up to the fight, but I don’t think it was the fight.
“Goals change psychology in a game and as I keep trying to say to people what we’re trying to do here is not easy. But we have got five players, 50 per cent of the team, who were playing one or two levels below this level last season. They’re not players at this level and they will make mistakes. If a team cuts you open and scores a worldie you can live with that. But the keeper has made a faux pas for their first one.
“As I said to the Bognor Observer before the Worthing game if I had just lost 6-0 at home I wouldn’t mind having a local derby next game.
“They’ve got some good players. But they’re like everybody else in this league. There’s nobody that’s outstanding, they’re all much of a muchness, and if you score first it gives you a great lift.
“The first goal Worthing scored was a devastating blow. I accept Worthing had a couple of other chances but we got through in the first half on four occasions when I was expecting the ball to be in the back of their net, but they could have done without a goalkeeper.
“In the second half they could have played without a goalkeeper. We didn’t get in so many times but the shooting was like back passes. And if you’re not very good in both penalty areas you’ve got a problem.
“We had seven players who in my opinion didn’t play anywhere near what I would expect of them. When you lose that many players you’re not going to win many games of football.
“It’s been a bad day at the office but it’s not the end of the season. It’s three points, that’s all it is. I understand it’s a derby and how that affects people and that’s life, but I’m more upset by certain senior players’ performances. That is not acceptable to me, Robbie or the club.”
Pearce said the performance against high-flying Carshalton at Nyewod Lane on Saturday needed to show a reaction from the players following the derby woe.
He said: “I hope we get the reaction from our players that he (Adam Hinshelwood) got from his players against us.
“The good bit from the Worthing game were that Jimmy Muitt and Dan Smith worked their socks off.”
Blake said of the derby defeat: “It sums our team up. It’s very disappointing the way we’ve played. They haven’t cut us open, we have gifted them two massive goals.
“If we’d taken one of the chances we had in the first half it could have been a different game but we were nowhere near good enough - very poor. Too many players were miles off it.
“In a derby you need leadership qualities, you need fight first and foremost, and we didn’t have it. You’re always backs against the wall mentally once you gift them two goals like that. We weren’t good enough.
“We can’t get a consistent level of performance and it’s up to me and Jack to get that right.”
Blake accepted the Bognor midfield went missing at Worthing.
“With your experienced players, in games like this, Jack and I should be able to rest and think ‘We’ve got these players playing for us.’
“They (Worthing) had a plan to get the ball wide and put it in the box and we couldn’t deal with it. It’s frustrating because we should be dealing a whole lot better with the situation.
“When you have players who are miles off it, eventually you are going to struggle and we struggled.”
Blake said Saturday was a big test of how the players could learn from defeats.
“After a setback it’s all about your character and about you as an individual and a team and about proving and showing that it hurts.
“We have got talented players but we need the other side of the coin as well.”