Nerves may be a factor as Rocks get on road

James Crane. Picture: Tim Hale
James Crane. Picture: Tim Hale
Hawks boss Lee Bradbury. Picture: Habibur Rahman (170972-31)

Bradbury hails his steely Hawks

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BOGNOR head for a week on the road with boss Jamie Howell insisting he is relaxed about the recent struggles to find their best form.

They are grinding out results without playing as well as they can – and Howell says that’s fine by him.

The Rocks go to Leiston tomorrow and Burgess Hill next Tuesday hoping to continue the unbeaten run that has kept them ahead of their rivals.

Although he’d like to see more fluent displays, Howell says every team experiences spells when they are below par.

He admitted nerves over their lofty position at the top of the table could be affecting the players’ performances.

He said: ‘In an ideal world we’d be getting the results we have been getting and playing really well too, and I can’t tell you why we’re not at our best.

‘Every team has times like this and the good thing is we’re staying solid.

‘We have the best defensive record in the division and hopefully over the final 10 games we will see a bit of a return to the way we can play.

‘I think nerves over where we are in the league could be coming into it.

‘No matter what you say to players about not being nervous, it can happen.

‘It’s not going to be easy being top of the league.’

Howell fears the Rocks will face playing on a poor pitch at Leiston, who beat promotion rivals Tonbridge 2-0 at home on Tuesday night.

Their surface has become quite churned up in places and Howell said it would be testing.

Tuesday brings a much shorter trip to Burgess Hill, which the Rocks expect to bring a different sort of examination against a side who’ll be keen for Sussex bragging rights.

The job has been made tougher by news that Sami El-Abd will miss both games through suspension after totting up 10 bookings for the season, while left-back Dylan Barnett could miss five to six weeks with a foot injury.

James Crane is the obvious contender to replace him at full-back while Gary Charman is set to partner Chad Field at the heart of the back-line in El-Abd’s absence.

– STEVE BONE