FA Cup clash holds no fear for Rocks

The Rocks head for an FA Cup showdown with Eastbourne on Saturday telling fans: We've nothing to fear.

Thursday, 28th September 2017, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:27 pm
The Rocks look for a breakthrough against Gloucester / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Bognor will take on ex-manager Jamie Howell’s new team with a place in the final qualifying round of the Cup at stake.

They believe that having given Borough a good game at Nyewood Lane a month ago – when Howell’s team won 1-0 thanks to a Kane Wills goal – they can go to Priory Lane with confidence.

They’re likely to make the journey without the new striker fans are hoping to greet. The hunt for a hitman goes on but the Rocks are not confident of recruiting one before the weekend who’d be allowed to play in the FA Cup.

But Bognor’s past two performances, which have seen Weston-super-Mare knocked out of the Cup and Gloucester City very nearly beaten in the league, habve lifted everyone at the club after an early-season run of defeats.

The Rocks are likely to face ex-skipper Wills again in Saturday’s Cup third qualifying round tie and may also come up against former Nyewood Lane favourite, who left Bognor in August after being told he was unlikely to get in the team, even though he had taken on a role assisting the management.

Coach Darin Killpartrick said the presence of any former Rocks in the Eastbourne camp was irrelevant.

“It doesn’t matter who they’ve got. We’ve got to go with a professional mindset, focusing on our team and our club and making sure we are prepared for what will be a very difficult game.

“We’ve been doing our homework on how they play and will put the finishing touches to our game plan at training tonight, and I feel we can go there with a lot of confidence.”

There’s £7,500 up for grabs for the winners in this round – and Bognor and their fans would not be unhappy with a moneyspinning replay, which would take place at the Lane next Tuesday (7.45pm).

Bognor should have virtually a full squad to choose from at Priory Lane – including winger Alex Parsons, who has dual-signed for Worthing and scored for them in their 2-1 home Bostik South defeat to Kingstonian, ironically at Nyewood Lane, on Tuesday night but who remains very much part of the Rocks’ squad.

Centre-half Corey Heath is fully fit after getting over an ankle problem while minor niggles reported by Doug Tuck and Jimmy Muitt are unlikely to keep them out of the Cup tie.

Full-back James Crane is out for six to eight weeks after dislocating his shoulder against Gloucester on Saturday, and Bromley left-back Kristian Campbell, on loan for a month, is thought unlikely to feature as his club don’t want him Cup-tied.

Rocks boss Jack Pearce is juggling preparations for the Eastbourne trip with ongoing attempts to strengthen the squad.

“I’m now very hopeful of getting one or two players in, including a striker. I’m probably more hopeful now than i have been for a while. We’ve made offers,” he said.

“The balancing act we have now is regarding whether we want to get someone in on loan who wouldn’t be allowed to play in the cup. You could be paying someone for a month and they couldn’t play in half your games. But we are working away on it.”

Pearce expects a stiff test at Eastbourne. He added: “They’ve got a great home record and have picked up lately.

“When we played them in the league (on August 28) they dominated the first half but we were the better side in the second half and they scored against the run of play.

“That will give us confidence going there. If we play to our full potential it will be an interesting game. We’re not fearful and we are unfortunate not to be going there with two wins in a row behind us.

“If you gave me a choice between playing well and losing and playing badly and winning I’d go for the latter option. But we must keep trying to play well, knowing results will come if we do.”