Rollercoaster week ends with Rocks top

Jimmy Wild's late strike salvaged a point for ten-man Bognor at Leiston on Saturday. Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jimmy Wild's late strike salvaged a point for ten-man Bognor at Leiston on Saturday. Picture by Tommy McMillan

Jamie Howell insists he is not too fussed whether Rocks lead the way in the Ryman League Premier Division at present.

An up-and-down week saw Bognor begin Saturday afternoon as leaders, then get knocked off the top by Havant & Waterlooville in the evening, before returning to the summit with a win at Burgess Hill on Tuesday.

With eight games still to go, Howell believes his side being top at the minute means very little. He pinpointed the previous week as a sign of what could well be in store heading into the critical run-in. Howell said: “It seems strange to say but whether we are top or not at the minute is not something that really bothers me.

“These past few days show how many potential twists and turns await us heading into these final few matches.

“All we can do is continue to focus on ourselves in the games to come and see where that takes us.”

Jimmy Wild struck late to ensure ten-man Rocks sealed a 1-1 draw at play-off hopefuls Leiston on Saturday, though, that was not enough to prevent them being knocked off the top by Havant.

Going into Tuesday’s Sussex derby with Burgess Hill, Bognor trailed leaders Hawks by a point having played a game more.

A shock defeat for Havant at Harrow Borough - coupled with Rocks’ 3-1 win over Hillians - ensures Howell’s side currently lead the way by two points but they have played a game more.

Despite Bognor topping the table, Howell feels even achieving a play-off place this season would be a great success.

He added: “Considering the players we lost over the summer and given our start, to find ourselves in the position we are is a great testament to this squad.

“I’d say this is up there with the season we had last year. Obviously we had the run in the FA Trophy but to be where we are with what we’ve got is brilliant.”

After back-to-back away games, Bognor have three successive home matches to finish March.

They come up against Folkestone Invicta on Saturday, before facing Canvey Island and Leiston at Nyewood Lane in the following two matches. With Howell seeing these games at home as a crucial factor to where his side could finish.

He said: “We’ve performed to the level I’d have liked at home in recent times. This run of fixtures now gives us a chance to put that right and continue to push for what we want to achieve this season.”

Sami El-Abd returns to the Rocks squad after serving a suspension for Saturday’s game, while Chad Field begins his three-game ban.

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