Rocks Review: If only this league season could finish now

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Rocks manager Jamie Howell reflected on their heaviest defeat of the season and admitted: I wish our league season could finish now.

The shock 5-0 home reverse to Hampton & Richmond was a bitter blow after the team looked to have turned the corner with a 1-0 victory over Wingate & Finchley on Saturday.

It left the Rocks in 13th place and with only one win in their past nine league matches.

Howell admitted times were tough and said that were it not for the fact the Rocks were in the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup, he’d be happy if the campaign was at an end.

Meanwhile, coach Darin Killpartrick has hit back at a suggestion the Rocks have had a ‘poor’ season, saying some didn’t understand how difficult it was to run a non-league club like Bognor with no major investor.

Howell felt the Rocks played better in the first quarter of the game against Hampton than they had performed in beating Wingate on Saturday, but admitted that was no consolation to players, management or fans.

“We’re not well-organised at the moment. We were good when we had a settled system and settled side but at present, we’re not. We can’t defend and can’t score and when that’s the case, you’re not going to win many matches.

“We played well in the first 25 minutes against Hampton but after that they were clinical and ruthless and we weren’t.”

The Rocks have struggled all season with key players getting injured or leaving, with central defence a particular problem area. Sam Pearce and Josh Warren (pictured above by Tommy McMillan) are the seventh and eighth centre-halves to be used this season.

It’s similarly unsettled up front, where Terry Dodd and Dan Thompson’s emerging pertnership has been broken by former Pompey youngster Thompson earning a trial at Stoke.

Stiker Simon Woods has come in on dual registration from Portchester but although he may be available at Harrow on Saturday, he is unavailable for a fortnight after that.

In addition, winger Harvey Whyte has tweaked a hamstring, leaving the squad woefully short of natural width.

Killpartrick said the vast majority of fans were sympathetic that bosses were doing everything they could to stem the flow of defeats, but he was angered by one supporter’s claim it had been a ‘poor’ season.

“I just couldn’t believe that comment,” he said. “Do they not understand what it’s like to be a non-league club who geographically and financially find it very hard to attract players that other clubs can? We’ve had six major injuries as well this season so if anyone thinks it is easy, let them come and do the job.”

Howell said all they could do was battle on and try to turn results around.

“The system we play, and want to play, can leave us open and exposed so when you lose, you can lose heavily. We could change to something more solid - maybe 4-5-1 - but we’d still lose games in the present circumstances.

“We need to tinker but we have to carry on playing how we want to play and having faith things will turn. I don’t like getting beaten 5-0 but there are reasons for it.

“If the league ended now I’d be happy but we have to plough on and hopefully find a bit of form before the cup semi-final. If we can finish in mid-table and get to the cup final, it would be great.”

Tonight’s training session will include a video nasty. The recruitment of Sian Elliott from the Univeristy of Chichester to film home matches and help management analyse players’ performances means the squad can expect to watch re-runs of the goals they conceded on Tuesday in the hope they can learn from their mistakes.

Saturday begins a run of six games in 15 days, with the Harrow trip followed by Leiston’s visit to Nyewood Lane on Tuesday.

The Rocks go to Whitehawk on Good Friday, host Lewes on Easter Monday then play Hastings twice - in the cup semi at Lancing on April 3 and in the league at Nyewood Lane on April 6.

STEVE BONE