Bognor are raring to get back in action after a fortnight off, telling fans: There’s a lot to look forward to.
The Rocks were knocked off the top of the Ryman premier division on Tuesday night by Havant’s win at Billericay, but they could return to the summit on Saturday if they win at Leatherhead and other results go their way.
They’ll head to Surrey to face the team now managed by Jimmy Bullard refreshed by an extended break from competitive action, a spell which has seen them work hard in training to keep up their fitness levels.
Manager Jamie Howell says the upside of the early FA Cup and FA Trophy exits is that they can focus clearly on their bid for league success.
Winger Alex Parsons and midfielder Dan Beck are fit again after missing recent games with hamstring and hip flexor problems respectively.
But the Rocks have suffered a new injury blow - young striker Jimmy Wild, who helped Chichester City to an FA Vase win on Wednesday night, has suffered a broken jaw in a freak accident at training. It is not yet known how long he will be out.
Otherwise the squad is missing only longer-term casualties Gary Charman (foot) and Harvey White (knee).
Leatherhead are 18th in the table with only four wins from their 18 league games but Howell expects ex-Fulham, Hull and Wigan playmaker Bullard to get them playing well and improving over the course of the season.
Howell said: “We’re raring to go. We won our last game, 3-1 versus Wingate and Finchley, and are keen to try to build on that.
“One or two us on the staff have been ill during the break but the players are okay and have been in working really hard.
“We’ve now been knocked off the top of the league, which isn’t nice, but I prefer to look at it in terms of how close we are to the top. We’re in a great position and have it all to play for.
“Although we wanted more good Cup and Trophy runs this year, the fact is we are out of both and can focus on the league and should not have too much of a build-up of fixtures at the end of the campaign like we did last season.”
November is not proving as busy for Bognor as they had thought.
They had been booked to go to Hendon on Tuesday of this week but that has been put back to Tuesday, January 10 (7.45pm), because their hosts had a Middlesex Senior Cup fixture to play.
And next Tuesday’s planned visit to Burgess Hill has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 31 (7.30pm) ... all because Whitehawk drew with Stourbridge in the FA Cup.
Rocks secretary Simon Cook explained: “Burgess Hill’s Sussex Senior Cup match with Whitehawk was due to be played this week, but was postponed to accommodate Whitehawk’s FA Cup replay.
“The county cup takes precedence over league matches, and therefore, for Burgess Hill, their match with Whitehawk now replaces our match next week.”
The Rocks do have a glut of home games coming up – four in 15 days. They face Hendon on Saturday, November 26; Kingstonian on Tuesday 29; Harrow on Tuesday, December 6, and Leiston on Saturday 10.
They are due to find out this Saturday who they will face in the third round of the Sussex Senior Cup. Possible opponents in the last 16 include Brighton, Chichester, Pagham or Worthing.
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