Rocks admit: We must improve fast – and strengthen

New loan striker Chinedu McKenzie in action at Chelmsford / Picture by Tommy McMillan
New loan striker Chinedu McKenzie in action at Chelmsford / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks reflected on a second successive home defeat and admitted: We know we have to improve – and fast.

A lacklustre showing resulted in a 2-1 loss to Hungerford on Tuesday night, eight days after their unbeaten home start was ended by Eastbourne Borough.

Better news came in between with a gritty 0-0 draw away to leaders Chelmsford, but Tuesday’s defeat left fans and management worried at how the season is developing.

After taking eight points from their first four games, the Rocks have picked up only two points from their past five games and have slipped to 14th in the table ahead of trips to 20th-placed Wealdstone on Saturday and ninth-placed Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday.

One worry is a lack of goals. Jimmy Wild’s late consolation strike against Hungerford was their first goal in 360 minutes of football – and injuries to Jimmy Muitt, now fit again, and Ollie Pearce, sidelined with a groin problem, have hit their attacking abilities.

Manager Jack Pearce said they would continue to work hard to compete at National League South level and vowed that the search was continuing for up to three new players he believed they needed.

Chelmsford was probably one of the best points we will get away from home all season but Tuesday’s performance was not acceptable, and it’s the my job and Jack’s job to put that right.

Jack Pearce

He said: “At Chelmsford we played resolutely and it was pleasing to get a point at a ground where I would not think many teams will this season.

“But Tuesday night was a major disappointment – a damp squib. We didn’t do anything for an hour and a bit apart from give away two poor goals.

“We livened up in the last half-hour but the game reinforced my view that the team who finish third from bottom won’t be greatly different in ability to the one who occupy the last play-off place. This is a proper competitive level – a massive step up from last season for us. Certain players will adjust, others won’t.

“We can only operate with a small ssquad and we have to try to bring young players through. But you have to get the balance right at this level and can’t rely on too many youngsters.”

Coach Darin Killpartrick said: “Chelmsford was probably one of the best points we will get away from home all season but Tuesday’s performance was not acceptable, and it’s the my job and Jack’s job to put that right. And we do need to get new people in the building.

“At training tonight we’ll concentrate on our formation in possession and out of possession. We’re being hurt by not being able to field a settled team. We are also looking at whether there’s any reason we are collecting so many injuries.”

Pearce said knocks to half-a-dozen key players had hurt Bognor, especially the inability to put out the front three of Pearce, Muitt and Alex Parsons that was so effective in the first few games.

Key midfielder Doug Tuck has been in and out of the side. He was named in the team to face Hungerford but pulled out shortly before kick-off with the effects of a dead leg suffered at Chelmsford.

Tuck may return to the squad at Wealdstone but Pearce and centre-half Corey Heath, out with ankle trouble, are not so close to a return.

Jack Pearce said the squad needed strengthening and said: “Ideally we’d like to get three more in over the next month. But it’s important they are players who are proven at this level.”

The Rocks did bring in striker Chinedu McKenzie on loan from Maidenhead but in the two games he has played, the former Romford top scorer has not looked the answer.

STEVE BONE

Get the first reports from Wealdstone and Hemel Hempstead at www.bognor.co.uk

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make this website your homepage

2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex

3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!