Bognor have snapped up two Worthing players – and made a real statement of intent as far as their hopes for the season are concerned.
The Rocks have swooped to sign versatile Ross Edwards and midfielder Ben Mendoza in the past few days – boosting a squad which has been in good form but has been light on numbers in recent weeks.
It comes as they enter a critical period in their Isthmian League premier division campaign with matches against three of the eight sides currently above them to come in the space of eight days.
Following last Saturday’s FA Trophy exit at Tonbridge, where a 2-1 defeat was overshadowed by a drink can being thrown at goalkeeper Amadou Tangara, they can focus fully on their promotion campaign over the next week or so.
They go to fourth-placed Hornchurch on Saturday, host sixth-placed Enfield on Tuesday and visit Carshalton (eighth) the following Saturday.
Pearce said the Trophy loss was disappointing, though the loss of the unavailable Keaton Wood and the not-fully-fit Doug Tuck – who did boost the display when he came on later – did not help.
“They were physically stronger than us, which you might expect from a team in the National League South, but we also paid the price for not taking our chances.
“The next set of games will be very difficult too and, as I’ve said, will tell us a lot about how strong we are.
“We’ve added another two players to the squad because competition for places is something you have to have.”
The latest recruit from Woodside Road is versatile Edwards, 21, who lives in Bognor.
He has switched to the Nye Camp from Woodside Road just days after midfielder Mendoza, 23, made the move across West Sussex.
Utility man Edwards who can play in defence or in midfield, will team up with Mendoza and the rest of his new team-mates in preparation for the away fixture against Hornchurch.
Edwards, who has Sussex under-18s, Sussex Schools, England Schools and England Colleges honours, came through the youth ranks at Worthing before making the grade in the first team.
But now he is a Bognor player and Pearce and coach Robbie Blake see his acquisition as another big boost to the optimistic mood in the camp.
The Trophy defeat to the Angels was Bognor’s first loss in nine, having won the previous eight.
Pearce said: “We’ve seen enough of Ross to know he is a real asset and we’re delighted to add him to the squad.
“Like Ben, we believe his profile matches that of the players we want to recruit.
“We feel he can improve here and has lots of untapped potential.
“Now we look to work with him to develop that and we hope we can help him become a player who adds strength to our squad as the remainder of the season unfolds.”
Pearce and Blake were equally delighted to tempt Mendoza to the Nye Camp from their arch-rivals.
It’s a kind of homecoming for the schemer, who had a pivotal role in a hugely successful Bognor Pebbles outfit as a youngster before heading to America to further his footballing career.
And after a spell at Worthing he has made the switch to Nyewood Lane.
Pearce said Mendoza possessed a lot of the qualities he admired in a player and it was an easy decision to make when the opportunity arose to capture his services.
The manager added: “Ben has a real talent and we hope to be able to develop that ability he has and try to enhance his all-round play.
“It’s always nice to be able to add to the squad because not only does it provide strength in depth, it also means that the current crop of players know they might just have to work that little bit harder in games to ensure that they retain their place in the team.
“I believe it is what is called a win, win situation.”