Jamie Howell has urged Bognor Regis Town players to keep their feet firmly on the ground as their assault on the Ryman Premier League title gathers pace.
Table-toppers Rocks benefitted from second-placed Havant & Waterlooville’s 3-0 defeat, in what was their game in hand, at Dulwich Hamlet last night. It means the Nyewood Lane frontrunners are two points clear at the summit having played the same games as the Hawks.
But while Howell acknowledges the result, he is quick to adopt an air of caution when it comes to talk of automatic promotion, pointing out the inevitable twists and turns that will undoubtedly follow as the race for the title hots up. There are seven games remaining.
He said: “Yes, Havant lost but for me, it’s all about what we do, and so the focus is on the next game, which is at home to Canvey island on Saturday.
“I get it that people see Havant losing as important. I got texts from people saying it. But there are so many points still to play for and the likelihood is that we won’t win all of our remaining games and neither will Havant.
“All we should focus on is taking care of our results and, as I say, that starts against Canvey.”
Rocks still have to go to West Leigh Park to take on Lee Bradbury’s men, relegated into the Ryman Premier league last season. The Hampshire side are very much seen as villains in the piece to the majority of Rocks fans, given that they raided the Nye Camp in the summer to snare top scorer Jason Prior and young winger Alfied Rutherford. The duo were seen at the time to be Howell’s best players, arguably.
Yet Bognor have flourished without their services, acquired with the help of a £10,000-a-week wage budget; Bognor’s is said to be in the region of £2,500.
Rocks travel to Havant on Easter Monday in the penultimate game of the league campaign – but, again, Howell is happy to see what unfolds in between before he weighs up the import of the encounter.
He added: “There is so much that can happen between then and now so it doesn’t’t make a lot of sense to look at that game when we have others before then that could have so much impact on that one.”
Meanwhile, a bonus for Howell has been the re-emergence of the form of young striker Jimmy Wild. The 18-year-old attacker came off the bench to net a crucial last-minute leveller at Leiston two weeks ago and helped himself to a goal in the 7-1 romp over Folkestone Invicta. Yet before that he was seen as surplus to squad requirements and was farmed out to SCFL Premier outfit Chichester City.
Howell said: “I am really pleased with Jimmy. He’s still young man only 18, and he is learning all the time. He’s done well since he came back from Chi and it did him good.”
Picture: TOMMY McMILLAN