GALLERY: Rocks boss gives his thanks to Pompey

JAMIE HOWELL thanked Pompey for their part in a great day for Bognor.

The Rocks manager looked on with pride as his young squad gave Guy Whittingham’s troops plenty to think about in last Saturday’s sun-baked friendly, which ended 4-2 to the visitors.

Action from the Rocks' clash with Pompey  Picture by Tommy McMillan

Action from the Rocks' clash with Pompey Picture by Tommy McMillan

Some at Bognor had feared a cricket score in cricket weather with Pompey having gone through several more pre-season gears than the Ryman premier club and being that much fitter and ready to cope with the energy-sapping heat.

But Pompey, who had hit five at Havant four days earlier, were not able to take complete control against a Rocks team who never gave up.

Howell said: “It was a really great day. It went well with lots of goals in frot of a big, big crowd, and we couldn’t have asked for more.

“I was a bit worried beforehand about whether we were ready for that sort of test but we rose to the challenge well. If it had been too easy for Pompey it would have been a pointless exercise for them and they’d have thought twice about coming back next year.

“Now we hope it might become a regular fixture - it would be lovely if it did.”

It was Bognor’s second friendly, following their 3-2 win at Selsey, and Howell said it showed there was still plenty of work to do.

Goalkeeper Mark Zawadski and on-trial Lewes forward Arron Hopkinson were among those to impress - as were a host of Rocks youth-team players who came on in the second half.

Terry Dodd and Harvey Whyte scored the Rocks’ goals (See a video of the Rocks second goal here) but Howell said: “We are still a bit lightweight up front. That was a frailty last season and we know it’s still an issue. We’re working on that.

“But Terry looked fit and sharp and took his goal well and Harvey had a good game too.

“Mark has had an excellent first couple of games for us in goal.

“We’re keen to give the under-18 lads some experience in the first team so they know what’s expected of them when they do come in for league or cup games.”

Howell also thanked Pompey for ‘loaning’ them defender Jordan Knight for the day.

The Blues wanted to have a look at the young trialist but didn’t have room in their 22-man squad for him - so he played for the Rocks, who would have struggled to field a decent defence without him.

See full coverage of the Rocks-Pompey game - and hear what Ben Johnson is saying about his return from injury - in the Observer, out on Thursday morning.