Spot in play-off zone would be perfect Christmas present for Bognor

Bognor head for the vital festive matches on the back of a thumping 7-2 win over Cray with the players being told: Keep on enjoying yourselves.

Thursday, 19th December 2019, 8:00 am
Bognor pile on the pressure against Cray / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks have had a tremendous run in the Isthmian premier division since the end of September and have a chance to break into the play-off zone if they can win holiday matches away to Lewes and at home to Worthing.

The management are not getting ahead of themselves but were delighted by the goal feast against Cray – who had lost only three league games all season before last Saturday’s defeat at Nyewood Lane.

And they simply want the team to carry on expressing themselves.

Celebration time for the Rocks against Cray / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Watch Bognor put seven past Cray - plus match reportRocks v Cray picture specialThe handsome victory was all the more impressive given that the Rocks were without two of their principal trio of forwards, Brad Lethbridge and Mason Walsh.

That didn’t matter as Dan Smith and Doug Tuck got two each, added to by a goal apiece for the Leigh brothers and an own goal.

Bognor go to Folkestone in the Velocity Trophy on Saturday – weather permitting – before those back-to-back Sussex derbies which could propel them into the thick of the promotion race.

Lethbridge could be back for the Lewes trip on Boxing Day while Walsh, recovering from a hamstring problem, may be fit to face Worthing at home on January 1.

Bognor pile on the pressure against Cray / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Rocks boss Jack Pearce said: “Before Saturday no-one in the division had lost fewer games than Cray and because of the players we didn’t have available, my fear was that we’d have a lot of the ball but wouldn’t score. I was wrong!

“You get days like that where everything goes in and you have to enjoy them. Our task now is to keep this form going over Christmas and into the new year.

“I was delighted we were able to entertain the fans with a few goals.

“The players are enjoying their football at the moment and we want to continue to play as they are.”

Pearce has said from the start of the campaign there is little to choose between many of the teams in the division.

Nothing he has seen since has changed his view, and he says games against sides towards the bottom of the league are proving as tough as those versus leading outfits.

“It’s incredibly tight. If you look back at the games we lost at the start of the season, in most of them we were the better side,” Pearce said.

“The games against Lewes and Worthing will both be difficult.

“I went to watch Worthing beat Enfield and they have some very good players. We will have to be at our best.”

Saturday’s double scorers Smith and Tuck, plus single scorers Ashton and Tommy Leigh, have been picked out for praise by both Pearce and coach Robbie Blake, who have both stressed the importance of goals being shared around, especially while the likes of Lethbridge and Walsh are missing.

Tuck in particular is relishing a slightly more forward role that’s opening up scoring chances for him.

Blake said: “When he’s on it and we’re on it, there’s no better sight. He’s getting forward now and scoring goals.”

The coach was jubilant after Saturday’s 7-2 triumph, saying: “We said to the players before the game Cray had only lost three games all season.

“In the first half we were exceptional, we scored three good goals and we were really pleased with the victory.

“We have to keep pushing on and get as close to that top five as we possibly can. We made them look a little bit average at times but Cray are a good side.

“I said at half-time we needed to make sure we put the game to bed and we scored early and that killed the game.

“I’m disappointed with the two goals we conceded but I think that was down to the game being over.

“I don’t think there’s any negatives really but if there is one it’s the goals we conceded.”

They are set to be without both new signings Ben Mendoza and Ross Edwards at Folkestone.

Mendoza suffered a badly-bruised foot in the Cray game.