Centre half Robson’s return is timely boost

Preparations for the new season have not been ideal for Bognor but the return of central defender Craig Robson could provide a timely boost.

Robson’s pre-season departure to trial at League club Crawley certainly disrupted Rocks, who saw 10 of last season’s squad depart, including two central defenders and a keeper.

Things did not work out for Robson at Crawley and so for the time being he is back at Nyewood Lane.

Manager Jamie Howell said on Wednesday: “It’s been a frustrating pre-season but then again I’ve been involved in really good ones and then it hasn’t worked out once the season starts.

“We’ve not played as much as a team, which has been our strength in recent years and I’ll not know if we’ve really pulled it together until a quarter to five on Saturday.”

Howell admitted the opening day trip to Canvey Island is not the kindest of starts but Rocks could also face trouble on Tuesday when they entertain newly-promoted Leatherhead.

“Promoted teams often have a bit extra about them early on. They are something of an unknown quantity but often start with confidence.

“Generally I’m pleased with the players I’ve got. I know them well and it’s really only one or two quality players that we need to complete the squad.

“It’s that extra bit of quality that we need and I’ll be looking to make a signing fairly quickly, possibly taking a player on loan from a pro club.

“I’ve got my eye on a few players but it usually takes three or four weeks for things to settle down and players to realise they may need to make a move to earn regular football.”

At least the return of Robson will help at the back, while Howell is delighted to have signed keeper Chris Winterton from Whitehawk.

“Chris has made a massive difference,” he said.

Robson, meanwhile, began his career at Havant & Waterlooville and spent the last two years playing semi-professional football for Western Australia club Sorrento.

Rocks failed to claim a win in what Howell admitted was a disappointing pre-season programme but they did manage draws at AFC Porchester (1-1) and Worthing (2-2).

The three defeats were all at home to League opposition: Stoke (1-2), Portsmouth (1-6) and Reading (0-2).

Certainly last season will be a hard act to follow although in the end Bognor finished just short of honours.

In the league they were third place but in the play-offs lost 1-2 at home to fourth-placed Lowestoft, who went on to clinch the second promotion place by beating AFC Hornchurch 3-0.

Rocks also reached the Sussex Senior Cup final at the Amex in May, when they lost 3-0 to Peacehaven, who had taken the Ryman League by storm.