Share and share alike - that's the Rocks goals policy
Jamie Howell hopes his Rocks players keep on sharing the goals around as they get over the departure of last season's two top scorers.
Bognor have hit five in each of their past two matches - the latest a 5-1 FA Cup win over Guildford City - and have scored 17 goals in their opening seven games.
It’s a boost - and a big relief - after the departures of Jason Prior and Alfie Rutherford left many wondering how the team would cope in front of goal this term.
Prior and Rutherford scored 66 goals between them last season but the Rocks are - so far - getting on well without them.
New signing James Fraser is leading the way with six goals to his name so far while Ollie Pearce, Dylan Barnett, Thomas Byrne and James Crane all have two apiece.
Darren Budd, Jimmy Wild and Alex Parsons all added themselves to scorers’ chart with one apiece in the Cup first qualifying round win over Combined Counties premier side Guildford, which has set up a trip to the Rocks’ fellow Ryman premier team Billericay in the next round.
Howell takes his troops to promoted Harlow’s 3G pitch on Saturday hoping the fine start continues - and not minding who scores the goals, provided someone does.
“One of the pleasing things from what’s been a good start has been the way different players have pitched in with goals,” he said.
“Fraser’s been outstanding in recent games with his goals but it was always going to be important to have players from all parts of the team pitching in.”
Byrne’s great start to the campaign, in which he has gone straight into the Bognor line-up after arriving on loan from Brighton’s academy, had another boost when he scored for Ireland under-18s. He is due back with the Rocks for the trip to Harlow.
Meanwhile Wild was allowed to play for Chichester City in their midweek SCFL clash with Broadbridge Heath and scored in their 4-3 victory.
The Rocks also have another forward, Jimmy Muitt, working his way to full fitness after a long-term knee injury, so are well-stocked up front.
Howell was pleased with the comfortable victory over Guildford and said: “We scored early and were 2-0 up within 20 minutes, which always takes the pressure off in those sort of games.
“Guildford were dangerous in attack and at 3-1 we had to be careful we didn’t allow them to get a second, but we went on to win with a bit to spare. We scored at crucial times.”
Reacting to the second qualifying round pairing with Billericay, where the Rocks won 2-0 in the league a fortnight ago, Howell said: “It’s not ideal - we’d have preferred a home game. But it’s a team at the same level of us and we have had a positive result there already.”
Bognor have had a spate of minor injuries but winger Parsons proved his fitness with an appearance and a goal against Guildford and centre-half Sami El Abd could feature at Harlow as he makes a good recovery from a hamstring injury.
Defender Chad Field - also a hamstring injury victim - is probably not quite ready to return yet, while a tight groin looks set to keep midfielder Doug Tuck out for another week, with Budd so far proving a more-than-able deputy.
Harlow’s artificial pitch holds no fear for the Rocks, with Howell saying: “We’ve played on a few and are not troubled by them. Most players would prefer a good grass pitch, but a good artificial surface is better than a poor grass pitch, and you do get some of those at this level in the winter.”
* The Rocks’ progress in the FA Cup means their home Ryman League match against AFC Sudbury on Saturday, September 17, has been postponed until Tuesday, October 25.
Meanwhile kick-off for the Rocks’ New Year’s Eve visit to Met Police has been switched from 3pm to 1pm.
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