Rocks coach Darin Killpartrick says the step up from Isthmian League to National South is like moving from the Championship to the Premier League.
He was speaking after the Rocks dominated long periods of their home bottom-six clash with Concord Rangers only to lose 2-1.
Killpartrick believes the squad are doing many things right but are paying a high price for not taking chances and not defending tightly enough – issues he said were all linked to the ‘massive’ leap in the standard of football they have taken in going up to National League South.
The 2-1 loss left Bognor still second from bottom and was especially frustrating coming after a run of two wins and two draws.
They were undone by two Concord goals in the first half-hour and found the deficit too much.
Killpartrick said: “As a team we need to score more goals and as a team we need to defend better.
The difference between the level we were playing at last season and the level this season is massive. It’s honestly like stepping up from the Championship to the Premier League – it’s that major.
“I’ve not seen such a one-sided game for a long time. We must have had 75 per cent possession, but possession without penetration doesn’t win you games. We just have to keep working hard in training and working on the areas we know we need to.
“The difference between the level we were playing at last season and the level this season is massive. It’s honestly like stepping up from the Championship to the Premier League – it’s that major.
“You’re up against better skill, pace, bigger and more physical squads, better benches and players who make fewer mistakes and are deadly in front of goal.”
Manager Jack Pearce admitted he was ‘totally and utterly devastated’ by the reverse against Concord.
He said: “I’ve been in this game a long time and on days like that I wish I never had to see another football match ever again.
“The players, near enough, did everything I believe in. I can’t knock their work ethic, I can’t knock what they’re trying to do because we are trying to play a different type of football to most non-league teams.
“They did ever so well and yet I have to sit here and look at another team who I’ve got no dispespect for but they haven’t got one player I’d like to take, and they’ve scored two, we’ve got one, they go home with the points.
“Where I am disappointed is that both their goals were self-inflicted rather than scored through great play.”
“We’re in contention with Concord for one of the relegation spots and we’re at home and we’re 2-0 down. You’re thinking “What’s going on here? We’ve had all the ball.
“I am totally and utterly devastated by that result. Now it’s my job to lift them for the next game which won’t be easy.
“We’ve just got to keep working. I’ve still got a lot of faith in them but it’s becoming harder and harder to motivate them because the best way a team believe in their manager is by winning games of football. What you’re telling them, they believe in.
“I’m telling them to do things, they’re doing those things and we’re losing. But I still think that what we’re doing is right. It creates chances but we just can’t put the ball in the net. And we make such schoolboy errors at the other end.
“What I learned very early in football is that you can have eveything between the two penalty areas but if you’re not effective defending your penalty area and not effective attacking the other team’s area, you have problems.”
Bognor head to mid-table Bath City on Saturday with centre-half Sami El-Abd banned, though this is now the only game he’ll miss, having had a three-match suspension for his red card against Hemel Hempstead reduced to one game.
Pearce said injuries and bans were not helping the cause.
Full-backs James Crane and Archie Edwards, centre-half Corey Heath and forward Ollie Pearce are all still sidelined by injury while bosses will check on the fitness of loanee left-back Kristian Campbell, who missed the Concord defeat with a minor injury picked up in the previous game against Hemel.
The next round of the FA Trophy takes the Rocks to Taunton Town on Saturday week.