Match gallery and report - Rocks boss: I would have quit if I’d detected lack of effort

Jimmy Muitt celebrates as the Rocks battle to a point at Hungerford - can they go one better and beat Truro? Picture by Tommy McMillan
Jimmy Muitt celebrates as the Rocks battle to a point at Hungerford - can they go one better and beat Truro? Picture by Tommy McMillan

Jack Pearce says he would have resigned as Rocks manager if their results were down to a lack of effort by the players.

Bognor have struggled for wins for months and go into Saturday’s home game against Truro six points from safety in National League South.

After months of trying, they’ve finally landed a striker – Iceland under-19 international Stefan Ljubicic has joined on loan from Brighton and will go straight into the starting line-up, as reported first on this website on Tuesday evening.

Pearce said: “If one of the reasons we were getting beaten was a lack of effort, I wouldn’t be sat here as manager.

“I’d have gone weeks ago.

“The players are giving it, and giving me, absolutely everything. Where I have failed is in getting in a striker and a goalscoring midfielder.

“But we’re delighted to sign Stefan and hope he’ll be a success.”

The 6ft 4in tall 18-year-old Icelandic prospect Ljubicic is on loan until the end of the season from Brighton’s academy.

Ljubicic has played 14 times for Iceland’s under-18 and under-19 teams, scoring seven goals and he is the Rocks’ second signing in a week.

Winger Anthony Nelson, 20, from the Cayman Islands, has been training with the squad and has now signed, but he is not thought to be quite match-fit enough yet for his debut.

Nelson was brought up in the UK but moved to the USA several years ago. He has been playing for Valparaiso University in the top division of the US Colleges League.

Before moving to the US, Nelson attended the prestigious Shrewsbury School and attracted the attention of Shrewsbury FC. He was called up to play for the Cayman Islands in the Under-20 World Cup qualifying matches in 2017.

Pearce said the club now had a squad of 22, but five of those were injured and not likely to be available for a couple of weeks – much longer in some cases. “Those 22 all need paying and it’s a big squad,” he said.

Defenders Corey Heath (ankle) and Chad Field (knee) are likely to be out for the season, while full-back James Crane will have a shoulder op next Wednesday and be out for around another six weeks.

Striker Ollie Pearce could be over a groin problem sufficiently to feature this Saturday and forward Ben Swallow is back after a ban.

And centre-half Manny Adebowale’s loan from Dover has been extended until April, welcome news following El-Abd’s injury.

Bognor nabbed a point at Hungerford on Saturday thanks to Jimmy Muitt’s goal but they are six points off safety near the bottom of National League South.

Coach Darin Killpartrick said it was a fully-deserved point and singled out Dan Beck – who set up the goal – for praise for a performance that belied his years.

“We played well at Hungerford and could have won it. Jimmy took his goal ever so well and Becky’s work-rate was outrageous.

“We had great backing from our fans, which really is appreciated, and now we have a tough home game against Truro to come.

“There’s pressure on us to find a home win but Jack and I will take the pressure. It’ll be interesting to see how Stefan gets on, but it’s a very difficult, physical league he is coming to play in.”