JP99 is back at Bognor – again

Jason Prior in action against Wingate & Finchley during his recent loan spell   Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jason Prior in action against Wingate & Finchley during his recent loan spell Picture by Tommy McMillan

The striker scored four goals during a recent month at Nyewood Lane and gave the squad a much-needed lift which helped performances and results improve.

The striker scored four goals during a recent month at Nyewood Lane and gave the squad a much-needed lift which helped performances and results improve.

Now the clubs have negotiated a second month’s loan which starts on Saturday – and Prior’s first two games will be against Margate’s two biggest rivals for the Ryman premier title.

The Rocks host third-placed Hendon on Saturday and visit second-placed Maidstone a week later and Prior’s Kent employers will be hoping he can dent both sides’ hopes.

Prior’s next Rocks goal will be his 100th for the club and fans will be overjoyed to see him in a green and white shirt again. His initial Rocks spell saw him score 95 goals at a rate of well over one every two games.

The need for Prior’s goalscoring prowess was seen again in Tuesday night’s 2-0 Sussex Senior Cup defeat at Whitehawk, where Bognor had plenty of possession but barely tested the home goalkeeper.

Rocks manager Jamie Howell said: “Jason made a big difference in his first month and we’ll be delighted to get him back in the team. He;s an intelligent player and gives us a focus up front.

“We mustn’t put too much pressure on him – we don’t expect him to score all our goals – but he’s a fantastic option to have in the side.”

Rocks officials praised league leaders Margate for their co-operation in making the new loan deal happen.

Prior’s return gives Howell a nice selection headache up front, with Ollie Pearce, Ashley-Paul Robinson, Stuart Green and Alex Parsons apparently competing for the two other forward slots.

Left-winger Ben Johnson’s absence with a knee injury – he is likely to be out for another two weeks with suspected cartilage damage – does free up an extra starting spot.

Howell was pleased by many aspects of Bognor’s play at Whitehawk, where the defeat ended their hopes of a third straight Sussex Senior Cup final, but disappointed they didn’t ‘hurt’ the hosts with attempts on goal.

“It was probably a fair result,” he said. “We can accept it, but we shouldn’t accept it, if I can put it like that. “We must look back and reflect on a game that we could have won had we done something with our possession.

“We mustn’t have the mentality that we’re just making up the numbers in this sort of game. Whitehawk made our keeper work, and Chris (Winterton) had an excellent game. But we need to do the same to opposition keepers in every game.”

With the Rocks now out of all three cups they entered, their focus turns to the league and Howell knows good results against Hendon and Maidstone will give them a platform from which to build over Christmas and beyond.

Howell said Hendon were having a great season. “They’ve always been a good team and have slowly gone about building momentum this season.

“But I’m more interested in our team and how we fare against teams near the top.”

Charlie Oatway, who slotted in at left-back at Whitehawk, should be over a slight groin strain.

Full-backs Daryl Wollers and Paul Hinshelwood are nearing dates for surgery on hip and knee problems and the Rocks now say the latter won’t be risked in the team before his op.

Fans are reminded they can ‘meet the management’ at a special evening at Seasons clubhouse next Wednesday, December 10.

Doors open at 7pm for a chance to question club bosses on a range of issues. The bar will be open.