Rocks hope new keeper Lincoln will solve No1 headache
Dan Lincoln will between the sticks for Bognor at Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday after they signed him to replace Billy Granger.
Boss Jamie Howell is delighted to tie up a new stopper and hopes it will put an end to the No1 position being something of a headache for the club.
It comes as the Rocks get stuck into an important run of three league games in eight days.
Lincoln, who is 21, spent a long time on Reading’s books as a youngster and has played for non-league clubs including Basingstoke, Nuneaton and Hayes and Yeading.
Granger had attracted mixed reviews from fans since joining in pre-season and has left by mutual agreement.
Howell admitted the position had been a headache since last season’s fans’ player of the year Grant Smith left for National League side Boreham Wood but he said he was confident things would now settle down.
“Billy has been training with Crystal Palace and it just didn’t quite work for him or for us. He wasn’t local and we really need a goalkeeper who will be training with the squad regularly,” he said.
“It’s obviously a key position and it’s been difficult getting it sorted out this season. But it will be okay.
“We’re delighted to sign Dan and look forward to welcoming him into the squad.”
Granger pulled out of last week’s home league game with Burgess Hill 90 minutes before kick-off with a sickness bug, leaving defender Gary Charman to go in goal - a role he excelled in - with no second keeper on the books.
Ironically, Howell is relatively spoiled for choice in terms of his outfield players as he prepares a team to renew rivalries with Dulwich.
The sides have plenty of recent history – they have had some classic league encounters and have met three times in the past six years in Ryman play-offs, Dulwich winning two and the Rocks one.
The south London side ensured Bognor’s 2015-16 season ended in heartbreak by beating them with a late free-kick in the play-off semi-final at Nyewood Lane – before missing out on promotion themselves by losing to East Thurrock in the final.
Howell said he had no plans to remind his players of the play-off heartache before Saturday’s clash at Champion Hill.
“Before last season we had a pretty good record against Dulwich, home and away, but last year they got the better of us,” said Howell.
“We know them very well and they know us very well. It should be a good game on a decent pitch between two sides who like to play football the right way.”
Midfield duo Dan Beck and Doug Tuck have boosted the Rocks by proving their fitness after recent niggles, leaving utility man Harvey Whyte the only major casualty as he waits to see how long his knee injury will keep him out.
Loan striker Thomas Byrne is still under Brighton’s wing as he gets over a hip flexor problem, meaning Ollie Pearce and Jimmy Wild will get another chance at Dulwich to show off their blossoming pairing up front.
After the Dulwich trip, the Rocks have back-to-back home games, with Merstham visiting the Lane on Tuesday night and Sudbury now lined up to head south on Saturday week in a game rearranged because both sides would have been without a game with scheuled opponents still in the FA Cup.
The Rocks also had a blank day last Saturday but coach Darin Killpartrick said the break from competitive action had done the players good.
“We had a really intense session on Tuesday night, replicating a game as far as we could, so we’ll be ready for Saturday.
“We’ll have to move the ball quickly against Dulwich - if we don’t, they will.”
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