Full-back crisis hits Rocks’ hopes of keeping escape bid going

Ollie Pearce is mobbed after his comeback goal / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ollie Pearce is mobbed after his comeback goal / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks admit they will probably need another six wins to stay in the National League South – but are not giving up hope they can do it.

That means they have to find victories in half their remaining dozen games – a tall order given they have won only four out of 30 so far.

But Saturday’s 2-1 win over Braintree has given them new hope they can go on a run which will spark a great escape.

They go to promotion-chasing Hampton and Richmond on Saturday with a full-back crisis.

Left-back Krsistian Campbell is suffering with a dead leg – leaving only one of five players at the club who can play at full-back available.

With Calvin Davies suspended for another three games and James Crane and stand-in full-back Dan Beck injured, Harvey Whyte is the club’s only fit full-back and manager Jack Pearce is deciding whether to ask another squad member to fill in or to make an emergency signing.

The team head to The Beveree buoyed by the win over Braintree, which came courtesy of first-half goals by Richard Gilot and – in his first start for three months – Ollie Pearce.

Manager Pearce says striker Pearce will take a month to reach full fitness after a long-term groin problem but he is hoping he can help spark a push for safety.

The boss said: “We can compete in this league but it helped having Ollie and Jimmy (Muitt) up front. If we can keep them fit, having two forwards like that at this level does help. We looked quite dangerous first half. Ollie can build on that performance and goal.
“But we need, I suppose, another six wins. It’s going to be hard but this is a small step towards where we want to go. We’ll see where we finish up. I’m just pleased for the supporters and the players that we got a win.”

The Rocks remain eight points off safety and Pearce believes three from the current bottom six will go down.

He maintains there is little difference in standards between those fighting to stay up and others pushing for promotion – and said Bognor had played better than they did last Saturday and lost this season.

He added: “Hampton will be a tough game – they are having a very good season – but the atmosphere in training remains good and we’ll go there with confidence.”
Apart from the lack of full-backs, midfielder Beck has broken his wrist in addition to his groin problem and is likely to be out for about a month. Striker Stefan Ljubicic has one more game of a three-match ban to serve.

STEVE BONE