Rocks in the title race? We’ll see, says boss

James Crane celebrates the opener at Met Police   Picture by Tommy McMillan
James Crane celebrates the opener at Met Police Picture by Tommy McMillan

ROCKS boss Jamie Howell is enjoying their title credentials being talked up - but he’s happy to talk them down ... for the time being anyway.

He is insisting his side will be keeping their feet on the ground despite talk of the Nyewood Lane outfit as emerging title contenders.

Bognor dispatched then Ryman premier leaders Dulwich on Saturday with a 2-0 win, before locking up a victory by the same scoreline at Met Police on Tuesday night.

Three straight victories - giving them 11 wins from their last 13 in all competitions - have consolidated their position in the play-off places, and done their chance of a push for the title no harm at all.

For the majority of the season, Dulwich have looked a decent bet for the title but a torrid run of late has seen their lead slip - while the Rocks have turned an outside position for the play-offs into a good position inside the top five.

Howell is well aware his side’s name has been thrown into the hat but while admitting it’s nice to hear, he believes they will be in a far better position to evaluate things at the end of the month.

He said: “We have had a good week. We played well on both Saturday and Tuesday and to take six points is a fantastic achievement.

“I’m just really pleased as we seem to be putting a run together at a good time in the season.

“With our inexperience, we have not been in this area before, but it’s good to be up in the mix and talked about.

“There are still so many games to go, near enough a third of the season - we have so many games. But by the end of the month we’ll be in a better position to see if we can have a go.

“I am just delighted with a play-off position and being talked about like that (title contenders) - it’s great.

“It’s nice to be talked about, but we need to keep doing what we are doing, enjoying the football and playing our game.

“We are playing well, but I know we are not going to win every game – a play-off position is our aim and anything more than that is a bonus.”

Adding to the importance of their triumphs in the past week was the fact that both came on the road.

The Rocks’ management had been critical of their away form, which before the weekend had seen them record just five away league wins all season. But back-to-back victories against two of the league’s established clubs seems to suggest an upturn in fortunes on the road.

Howell added: “Our away form was a worry, but we spoke about trying to be more compact and work hard.

“We have defended as a team excellently, and the back four and goalkeeper have been sensational over the past couple of games. We spoke about it, and we have been much better defensively.”

The Bognor manager was particularly impressed with his side’s showing at Dulwich.

“I thought to a man, we were very good and the commitment from all of the lads was great,” he added. “Sometimes in away games like that you go there are even with a 2-0 win you have sneaked a victory, but that was not the case. We played very well against an excellent side.”

Tuesday night’s win, however, did come at a cost - with captain Kane Wills picking up an ankle injury.

The midfielder will miss out on Saturday as they host Leiston, looking to avenge a 5-2 away defeat earlier in the season, but it is hoped that there is no severe damage - just swelling - and he could be back for Tuesday night’s trip to Canvey Island.

OLLIE BERRY

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