Bognor have begun the season with another trophy – but bosses are warning the players: You need to sharpen up if you want to achieve anything else.
They defeated Chichester City 1-0 at Lancing on Tuesday to claim the Sussex Community Shield, three months after lifting the Sussex Senior Cup.
But manager Jack Pearce and coach Robbie Blake said the performance was not good enough, and big improvements would be needed when the Isthmian premier campaign starts on Saturday week.
A failure to take chances and defensive weaknesses are ringing alarm bells, with Pearce and Blake knowing those two problems hit them hard last season.
Dan Smith scored the only goal to clinch the Shield and Pearce said it was nice to win more silverware. But he added: “The performance was not what we wanted.
“In the first half-hour we had four or five scoring opportunities created by good technical football and fluffed the lot. That’s a worry.
“And Chichester had chances which came about through our poor defending, which is something else to be concerned about.
“Afterwards there wasn’t much life in the dressing room, as you’d expect after a trophy win. They knew they hadn’t played well.
“It shows we’re very much a work in progress. We have a good squad but need to work on our shape and the balance of the team. The jigsaw isn’t complete, that’s for sure.”
Bognor have completed deals to take another young Pompey duo – keeper Petar Durin and centre-half Joe Dandy – on loan and hope to take striker Brad Lethbridge in a similar arrangement, though the 18-year-old is injured at present.
Coach Robbie Blake said of Tuesday’s win: “We’re really pleased we have got another trophy. But on the negative side we were not very good. We need to be a whole lot better than we are at the minute if we want to do anything or achieve anything this season.
“It’s the first game we have won in pre-season. We played quite well at Horndean (where they drew 1-1) without scoring goals. So I’m hoping the team talk Jack and I gave after the game will give them a bit of a shake-up because we certainly need to do that because we were not pleased at all. That was out fifth pre-season game and it was probably our worst performance.
“We were bitterly disappointed with the way we played and we have to be a lot better than that. Take nothing away from Chichester. They are a very good team and well organised, with a good manager and coaching staff.
“But we feel we have better players. That is not me being disrespectful, but we didn’t show that as it looked like two teams in the same league. Jack and I won’t accept that.”
Blake said he was unsure about any more new faces coming in but added: “We are hoping to have Bradley Lethbridge back who was with us last season who at times was a key player. Brad’s currently injured back at Portsmouth’s academy, so we have got to assess that and we are hoping that is not too far away.
“But we may need to make a couple of decisions with the trialists we have had. You never know, we may add one or two new players.”
Blake said the final pre-season game, at Gosport tomorrow, was another chance for the players to show they were making progress. “Everything is up for grabs at the minute certainly based on Tuesday’s performance. We will be working hard.”