Rocks ready for decider

Jason Prior lifts the ball over the advancing Tony Di Bernardo to give Bognor a 3-0 lead and complete his hat trick against Worthing''Picture: Chris Hatton

Jason Prior lifts the ball over the advancing Tony Di Bernardo to give Bognor a 3-0 lead and complete his hat trick against Worthing''Picture: Chris Hatton

Aaron Dawson. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Gosport aim to give loyal fans something to cheer at home

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Bognor head into a final-day title decider at Chatham on Saturday trying their best to treat it like any other game.

They see no need to change their approach to the match or try any different tactics to the ones that have enabled them go into their last match with a two-point lead in top spot.

If they beat Chatham, they will be Ryman one south champions and take the sole automatic promotion spot. Anything less and Met Police, who have been relentless in their chase for the championship, will take the title if they beat Merstham.

Goal difference won’t come into it – the two rivals are both on plus 60 at the moment and the only way they can end level on points is by the Met winning and the Rocks drawing.

The Rocks’ task could be made harder by the fact Chatham need a win to have a chance of staying up.

But joint bosses Darin Killpartrick and Jamie Howell are trying to take all the pressure off their players and treat it like any other game.

Killpartrick said: ‘We’ll do what we always do in the build-up to a game. We don’t want things to be any different. The season’s not finished yet and while we have developed and progressed this season, we haven’t completed the job. That’s what we aim to do on Saturday.

‘This is a chance for good players to become excellent players.’

Howell said: ‘We’ve been talking to the players about the need to take the emotion, excitement and any fear out of this game and treat it simply as one we want and need to win.

‘We feel we deserve to be where we are in the table and need to go out and prove that one more time.’

This time last week, the Rocks knew they might need to win all three of their final games to take the title and they got two-thirds of the way there by putting five past Sittingbourne and three past Worthing over Easter, with Jason Prior scoring seven of those eight.

But Met Police won both their holiday games too – meaning one team with more than 90 points and 100-plus goals will face a play-off semi-final next week against a side who have finished around 30 points behind them in the league.

But Rocks players, management and fans are desperate to avoid that sort of finale to the season and get the job done at Chatham.

Skipper Michael Birmingham will come straight back into the starting line-up, while Dan Beck and Perry Ryan’s return to fitness effectively leaves four players fighting for one spot, with Conor Wilkins and Dan Royce vying with the fit-again pair for the fourth slot in midfield.

With no new injuries to report after the Easter programme, the rest of the team picks itself after the run of five straight wins which has followed the early-April 1-1 draw with the Met.

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