JAMIE Howell says his Bognor side are fit and raring to go for a final promotion push.
With just four games to go, the Rocks are still clinging on to the top of the Ryman Premier.
But a 1-0 loss on the road at play-off challenging Enfield on Saturday, combined with a win for second-placed Havant & Waterlooville, means that Bognor’s lead is now down to a single point.
With just three weeks remaining, Howell knows how important it will be for his squad to be on top form.
For that reason, he has given his players some time off this week so they are ready to make one final push – starting with a trip to AFC Sudbury tomorrow (3pm).
Howell said: “We didn’t train on Tuesday as I felt the Enfield loss took a lot out of us physically and mentally.
“We had a lot of disappointed players after that match and, with a few games to go, I told them to go and rest their legs and their minds to make sure they are ready for Sudbury.”
The loss in north London was the first in 12 league games for Howell’s close-knit squad.
But despite the lead at the top being cut, the manager remained upbeat for the crucial games to come.
He said: “It was one of those things – we were a little bit unlucky but sometimes it goes like that.
“The most important thing is what we do at Sudbury.”
On paper, Bognor will be favourites to return from Suffolk with all three points.
Sudbury are third-bottom and have not won in five games, their last match resulting in a 0-0 draw at Worthing.
But Howell knows better than to dismiss any side in this competitive division.
He said: “They are fighting for their lives so they will have extra incentive to do well.
“In some ways it may be better to be playing a side that is 10th or 12th who have nothing to play for. But we will focus on what we have to do and we will need to play well to get something out of it.”
He added: “I don’t need to pick people up. From the results that happened in midweek, we have mathematically finished second so it has already been a successful season no matter what it happens in terms of the run-in.
“It’s now down to what we do in the next four games as to where we finish.”
Howell received a timely reminder of thanks for the work he has done with Bognor this year in winning the manager of the month award for March.
He said: “It’s very nice but it is all about the team who have done brilliantly. It’s a reflection of the players, as they are ones who are out there winning games of football.
“All I am just focused on is Saturday and finishing as high as we can.”