Rocks out to build on FA Cup win - but need to be ten per cent fitter
Bognor's FA Cup victory over Weston-super-Mare can lift the whole club and spark a revival in their league fortunes.
They scored a dramatic late winner to dump their National League South rivals out of the competition on Saturday – and are now determined to build on it on all fronts.
A draw away to Eastbourne Borough in the next round has set up another reunion with former manager Jamie Howell and they could be facing defender Gary Charman for the first time since his surprise exit from Nyewood Lane.
Before then the Rocks aim to get their league campaign back on track at home to Gloucester City this Saturday – with coach Darin Killpartrick saying they need to be ten per cent fitter.
James Crane was the Cup goal hero, diving full length to head in Sami El-Abd’s set-up and put the Rocks into the third qualifying round.
The win – Bognor’s first for 32 days – earned them £4,500 prize money and lifted some of the pressure that had been building on manager Jack Pearce.
There will be a further £7,500up for grabs for the winners of Saturday week’s visit to face Howell & Co at Priory Lane, when another ex-Rock, Kane Wills, will be out to do as he did in the league game between the sides at Nyewood Lane last month and score the winner.
Killpartrick said: “It was a massive win and it has lifted everyone. On our second-half display I thought we were well worthy of the win, too.
“Our first-half performance may not have been as good – although to give Weston credit, they are a very good side and move the ball about very well – but the second 45 minutes was probably one of our best halves of football of the season to date.”
He said it was vital the players used the improved performance and the result as a springboard to ensure their league form picked up.
Before the Weston game, they’d lost five out of six in the NLS, leaving them 18th in the table, just two points and two places above the relegation zone.
Killpartrick said: “We trained extremely hard on Tuesday night. It was a very physical session because we need to be ten per cent fitter.
“Where we’ve been playing every midweek then needing to recover we’ve not been able to train like that. So we’ll take full advantage of weeks when we can train hard.”
He expects a tough task this weekend against a Gloucester side who, like the Rocks, have tailed off in the league after a strong start.
“Most teams are very similar in this league and none will present you with an easy game,” Killpartrick said.
“I go along with Jack’s view that there won’t be a lot of difference between the team that finishes in the last play-off spot and the the one that finishes one above the bottom three.”
After Saturday’s game attention will turn back to the Cup and whether the Rocks can beat Eastbourne to reach the fourth and final qualifying round for the second time in three years.
In 2015 Bognor came through three rounds to set up a tie at Wealdstone, with the winners going into the first round proper, but two missed penalties cost them dear as the Stones won 2-1.
Killpartrick said he would be fully focused on Bognor’s game and would not worry about any ex-Rocks personnel in the Eastbourne team.
Meanwhile, the club’s hunt for reinforcements goes on. A striker and central midfielder are among those on their wish-list but getting quality additions in is proving tough.
The club’s youth team, aka the Pebbles, march on in the FA Youth Cup. They won 5-1 away to Worthing.
Get the first report from Rocks v Gloucester on this website on Saturday