ROCKS boss Jamie Howell has moved quickly to add three players to his squad after reflecting on their wretched start and admitting: We’re not good enough.
Two former Rocks players have returned to Nyewood Lane and a new defender has joined on a month’s loan.
Alex Malins, a versatile defender, has joined initially on a month’s loan from Crawley Town, where he is a member of the first team squad but is yet to make his first appearance for the League One side.
The 18-year-old follows in the footsteps of Louis John, who enjoyed a very successful loan period at Nyewood Lane from Crawley last season, and Howell expressed his appreciation for the assistance received from Red Devils manager Richie Barker.
Midfielder Scott Chamberlain, 25, began his career at Brighton and Hove Albion, making one first-team appearance. He spent a period on loan with Bognor several years ago, impressing with a number of well-struck goals.
Following his release from Brighton, he moved permanently to Nyewood Lane, before playing for several other clubs including Lewes. He now returns for his third spell at the club.
Goalkeeper Tom Boyle has returned to the Rocks having enjoyed great popularity with the Nyewood Lane supporters.
Boyle had been a loyal understudy for the past two years, playing around a dozen matches for Bognor. He had moved to Godalming Town, but jumped at the chance to return to the club, stating how much he had missed goalkeeping coach Lee Conway and the Nyewood Lane fans.
It is likely further signings will follow, with another striker the current priority. Howell remains confident they will boost their numbers and quality further and he urged fans to stick with them as they tried to balance the need for short-term results with long-term growth.
The Rocks are one of the bottom of the Ryman premier after four matches.
Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat at home to Carshalton – who arrived at Nyewood Lane without a single point from their first three games – was undoubtedly the low point of the embryonic campaign to date.
The Rocks led 2-1 for much of the game but the longer the match went on, the more nervy they looked. The Surrey strugglers made Howell’s men pay for their failure to add to their own tally during periods of dominance by scoring three in the final 17 minutes.
A bank-holiday weekend double header brings a home clash with Met Police on Saturday and a visit to old rivals Lewes on Monday, and Howell knows it is imperative to start getting points on the board quickly.
He said before his triple swoop: “Where do you start after a result (the Carshalton defeat) like that? The honest answer is we’re not good enough.
“A week ago, I wasn’t panicking – but I am now. We will get relegated with the squad we have at present. We are not able to keep clean sheets and we are not scoring enough goals, and we can’t keep going like that.”
“I’m not going to have a go at any individual but as a group, we are not strong enough. We have made a decision as a club to go with young players and not rely on players who just want to come here for money, but at the moment the mix of young players we have needs help. We still need more experience.
“We have been trying all summer to add to the squad – it’s not like we haven’t – but we’ve been anxious not to panic-buy.”
Up front, ex-Whitehawk and Lewes striker Ben Godfrey made his debut alongside Terry Dodd on Tuesday – but he will need time to settle.
At the back, the Rocks looked steadier while left-back Daryl Wollers was on the pitch. But he needs groin surgery and cannot manage much more than 60 minutes at present, and there is little strength in depth in defence.
Right-back Jon Marzetti picked up a bruised Achilles in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Lowestoft, which meant James Crane having to deputise on Tuesday. That in turn left the midfield short.
It’s the sort of scenario that sums up how thin the squad can look once one or two injuries hit.
Howell said: “We need competition for places and are determined to get things right. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into improving things since the club was last relegated from the Ryman premier – no way do we want that to happen again.”
Coach Darin Killpartrick has been getting back to defensive basics at training.
“I said a month or so ago in the paper this would be toughest Ryman premier division for some time and I’ve seen nothing since to suggest otherwise,” he said.
“Some of our players need to look at their own fitness levels and, overall, we have a lot to work on.”
One positive is the goalscoring exploits of new defender Craig Robson. His double against Carshalton – when he was man of the match – came on top of three pre-season goals, giving the Rocks a much-needed greater threat at set-pieces.
Get the first report from Saturday’s home clash with the Met Police on this website