Rocks told to sharpen up and improve away form

Rocks new loan signing Shepherd Murombedzi
Rocks new loan signing Shepherd Murombedzi

ROCKS manager Jamie Howell has called on his side to sharpen up at the back in order to sort out what he has labelled as ‘very poor’ away form.

Bognor crashed in five second-half goals in a comfortable home win over Margate on Saturday, but their away woes were on full show on Tuesday night when they conceded the same amount in a 5-2 defeat after a gruelling trip to Leiston.

Howell wants his side, who are the league’s top goal scorers with 48, to start shutting out teams, especially on their travels, to help improve their indifferent away form and fuel a promotion push.

Rocks have won just three league games on the road all season, and have just one win in their last seven games away from Nyewood Lane – with the blame being portioned on conceding too many goals.

Their away record has seen them remain just outside the play-off places, which is something the management is telling their players to change.

Howell said: “We have got some problems at the moment. Our away form is very poor and we are conceding too many goals.

“You have got to look at it two ways, that A, it’s personnel and we need to change things and bring a couple in, but I don’t really think it’s that, so B, we are not doing enough as a team to defend very well.

“We are the top scorers in the league, but we have one of the worst defensive records, which isn’t acceptable. It’s about striking that balance, which, at the moment, we are not doing well.

“We played very well in the second half on Saturday and we wanted to take that into Tuesday so we set up a little differently as to how we would normally away from home, so I have to take a bit of responsibility for that.

“Maybe we need to change our approach a bit as well.”

Despite admitting it was a ‘nightmare’ journey in the 340-mile round trip on Tuesday night, Howell refused to blame the milage for their display.

He said: “The travel is definitely a factor and we did struggle, but teams have to do it to us. It’s a nightmare and it’s not ideal, but you have to adjust and deal with it and I do not think we did that very well.

“I would like to mention the supporters, though. We took two coach loads up and at some points on the motorway on the way back you couldn’t see ten yards in front of you.

“People were getting back at three in the morning and up for work today. The supporters that made the trip are very much appreciated by the management, by myself and Dabba, and it’s what makes us (the club) special.”

Bognor are also hoping that Ben Johnson’s knee injury will not be as bad as first thought ahead of a scan this week.

There were fears that the winger had suffered a reoccurrence of the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament that kept him out for over a year last season.

Johnson is set for an MRI scan this week and there are some signs it may not be as serious as they expected, while there could also be good news on long-term absentee Harvey Whyte this week ahead of hosting Wealdstone on Saturday.

On Johnson, Howell added: “The swelling has gone down a lot and that’s a good sign. We cannot determine exactly how bad it is before the scan. It’s a positive sign but you can never be certain. We are hoping and praying.”

Fearing the worst last week, Rocks moved quickly to bring in an impressive replacement ahead of Saturday’s 5-3 win over Margate.

Zimbabwe-born wide man, Shepherd Murombedzi signed on a month’s loan from Reading and he has made an immediate impact by netting on his debut.

Howell hopes they will be able to extend his stay and added: “He did brilliantly and we were really pleased. He’s quick, good on the ball, the fans like him, he looks exciting and had an excellent debut.”