Bognor set for new season

Craig Robson in action for Bognor in pre-season
Craig Robson in action for Bognor in pre-season

JAMIE HOWELL looked ahead to Bognor’s Ryman League Premier campaign and said: “Let’s start well.”

The Rocks begin the new season on Saturday with a home clash against Merstham.

Bognor’s first opponents of the season were promoted as Ryman South play-off winners last term and Howell believes they will come to Nyewood Lane full of confidence.

He said: “They will be coming to us in a really good place.

“Merstham will be wanting to show everyone that they can perform well in this league and that starts against us.

“I have been pleased with how pre-season has gone and we are looking forward to getting going now.

“We have had some good results in the friendly games and it’s important we take that into the league now.

“Obviously facing a promoted side is never easy early on in the season but I’m hopeful we can get a good result.”

Rocks have endured dreadful beginnings in both of their previous two seasons.

Last year they found themselves without a win after eight matches, while the season before saw them faced with a similar record.

Howell admitted he has stressed to his side the importance of starting well this time around.

He added: “I have spoken to the players and stressed to them that we need get off to a good start.

“The way I look at it even if we have an average opening it’s going to be better than the previous two years.

“When you struggle early on it makes it that much harder to claw yourselves back later on in the year.

“Fortunately, last season we picked up in the middle part of the year and the same happened a couple of campaigns ago.

“But it is not something that we want to keep doing as a club and hopefully we secure some wins in August.

“The team seems to be more settled this time and I’m hoping that works to our advantage in the opening weeks.”

After Saturday, Bognor are back in action just four days later when they travel to Staines Town in the league.

Town were relegated from the Conference South last term but Howell is under no illusions it’s going to be an easy ride for his side.

He said: “It’s going to be a tough couple of matches for us.

“First, we face a promoted side then a team that came down into this league.

“I think Staines have spent a fair amount over the summer and will be looking to get go back up at the first time of asking.

“But as I said before we will go to Staines with nothing to fear and I have every confidence in my team.

“If we could go there and pick up a positive result what a confidence boost that would be for the side.”

Bognor have added a new addition to the side before Saturday’s curtain raiser at Nyewood Lane.

Goalkeeper Grant Smith has agreed to return to his former side.

Smith, 21, was with the Rocks two seasons ago before moving on.

He was part of the Hayes & Yeading side in the league above last term.

Howell admitted his delight at sealing the return of a former favourite in the dressing room and on the terraces.

The Bognor boss said: “It’s great that Grant has decided to come back to the club.

“I had been chatting to him for a little while seeing if he wanted to come back.

“He is a great lad and was hugely popular with the fans when he was last here.

“I’m sure that will be the case once again most of the players know him as well and it gave everyone a lift when he came back.”

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