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Rocks suffer title heartbreak as final draw leaves them short

Bognor boss Jamie Howell believes his side have what it takes to overcome title heartbreak.

 

The Rocks have defied the odds all year to be in pole position for much of the season at the top of the Ryman Premier.

 

But an Easter Monday defeat at title rivals Havant & Waterlooville meant Jamie Howell’s side went into the last match of the season against Met Police needing a win to have any chance of being crowned champions.

 

Despite putting their opponents goal under great pressure, the Rocks could only manage a 1-1 draw – meaning they were pushed into the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

 

The Rocks played their semi-final of the playoffs last night against Wingate and Finchley.

 

If they won that, then it is on to a winner takes all tie on Bank Holiday Monday against either Dulwich Hamlet or Enfield Town in front of the Nyewood faithful.

 

Regardless of how they fare, Howell is proud of what his side have achieved this season.

 

Speaking to the Post, he said: “They are a determined bunch of lads who have exceeded expectations so far.

 

“We didn’t train this week as we have got some people who are tired but they are ready to go.”

 

It could have been all so different, if the Rocks – cheered on by a home crowd of nearly 800 fans – had found a winner against Met Police.

 

A Jimmy Muitt strike in the second half had sparked wild celebrations at Nyewood Lane.

 

But an equaliser with 20 minutes to go meant the Rocks had to push forward in search of the one goal that would have sealed the win and the title.

 

For all they tried and all the pressure they applied, lady luck just was not on their side.

 

Howell said: “I thought we did OK on Saturday. We were not sparkling but we had enough chances to win the game but shots hit people, the ball didn’t fall at the right time or we had simply bad luck.

 

“We conceded a bad goal but then we were really pushing for the last 20 minutes.

 

“Towards the end there was a penalty not given and then Gary Charman had a header when nine times out of ten he would have scored.

 

“I have got no answers as to why we did not win the game.

 

“It was not through lack of effort.”

 

As news filtered through that Havant had failed to break down a stubborn Kingstonian defence, word went round Nyewood that a win would be enough to give the Rocks the title.

 

But Howell denied that nerves had anything to do with it.

 

He said: “We all knew what was going on elsewhere. Sometimes that can give the nerves  but I don’t think that played too much of a part in the end result.”

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