Rocks Review: Johnson has one eye on the Ryman League play-offs

The Rocks are back at Nyewood Lane tonight (July 30) to face Havant  Picture by Tommy McMillan
The Rocks are back at Nyewood Lane tonight (July 30) to face Havant Picture by Tommy McMillan

BEN JOHNSON believes the Ryman premier play-offs are a realistic aim for the Rocks this season.

The winger, set to return to the squad within weeks after nearly a year out with cruciate ligament damage, feels a play-off push is possible in Bognor’s second season back in the premier division.

He was speaking ahead of the Rocks’ next pre-season test - which comes at home to Havant tonight (Tues, Jul 30, 7.45pm).

Jamie Howell’s side finished 14th last season having been promoted through the play-offs the season before. The Rocks also reached the Sussex Senior Cup final at the Amex, where they lost 4-0 to Brighton.

Johnson was one of a number of key men whose injuries disrupted the campaign, with Stuart Axten and Harvey Whyte others to miss long spells.

Johnson said: “I know all the lads here are ambitious and we would like to think we could be up there fighting for the play-offs at least.

“But you’ve only got to look at last season though to see sometimes things don’t go as planned - unfortunately last year we had quite a lot of injuries.

“We had more than our fair share last year. If we can keep keep our regulars a little bit more fit for the rest of the season, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t be up there for the play-offs.”

On the transfer front, the 25-year-old expects no departures but hopes for a couple of signings.

So far, Bognor have signed only a new goalkeeper. Craig Stoner announced his retirement and Mark Zawadski was brought in as replacement, having played in the Ryman League with Horsham, Crawley Down and Burgess Hill.

“I wouldn’t expect any of our lads to leave, I think everyone’s pretty happy and I don’t think anyone is looking to go,” said Johnson.

“I’ve spoken to the gaffer a few times. Jamie and Dabba are as ambitious as the players. They are always looking to get better. I would imagine they’re spending a lot of the time on the phone trying to bring players in.

“I’d hope we could freshen things up a bit and maybe bring a couple in. We are a small squad and a couple of additions wouldn’t go amiss. I’d hope for maybe a centre-forward and a defender just to strengthen things up. If that happens, then I can’t see no reason why we won’t be up there.”

SAM GARRETT