Play-off loss is hurting as Rocks bosses reflect

Alfie Rutherford in action in the Rocks' play-off defeat to Dulwich / Picture by Tim Hale
Alfie Rutherford in action in the Rocks' play-off defeat to Dulwich / Picture by Tim Hale

The Rocks’ bosses admitted they were hurt by missing promotion – but said their players deserved great credit for their season’s efforts.

Their dream of reaching National League South ended in a 1-0 play-off semi-final defeat to Dulwich Hamlet – a cruel end to a campaign in which Bognor reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy and just missed the title.

Devastated boss Jamie Howell said the club did not deserve to end the season with nothing. He said of the play-off loss: “The fact is, it is difficult to win tight games against the better teams. We’ve won loads of them this season but you’re not going to win all of them and we’ve ended up losing a crucial one like this.

“If we’d scored the penalty I think we’d have won 1-0, but you don’t always get the rub of the green. The players gave me everything – as they have all season – but we looked leggy.

“Ultimately, in not quite getting to the FA Trophy final and not getting promoted, we’ve ended up with nothing. It was always my fear. We’re bitterly disappointed.” Howell said it would be disrespectful to Hampton to suggest the Rocks would have been champions without their FA Trophy run.

Meanwhile, Howell and Darin Killpartrick both plan to be at the Lane next season.

Ultimately, in not quite getting to the FA Trophy final and not getting promoted, we’ve ended up with nothing. It was always my fear.

Jamie Howell

Manager Howell has made no secret of the fact he is ambitious as a manager but told the Observer he fully anticipated staying with the Rocks.

Coach Killpartrick aims to reduce his hours on the club’s coaching staff because of work and family commitments but told us: “I’m going nowhere.”

Decisions on whether any players will move on are likely to be made over the next few weeks. Fans hope the squad stay together.

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