BOGNOR have FA Cup stars in their eyes – almost…
The Rocks head to Oxford City tomorrow in the fourth preliminary round of the world’s oldest competition knowing that a victory will bring great rewards.
The prize money of £12,500 would go a long way to supporting the club’s overall development, as would the additional income of a potential plum tie against Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers or Coventry City.
But, selfishly, the majority of players and staff know that a victory would give them a first taste of FA Cup first round action.
First though, they have to win against an Oxford City side who sit just below them in National League South.
A return to the cup will be a welcome relief for the Rocks who are fourth bottom and have not won in the league for nine games, stretching back to the middle of August.
That poor run continued last weekend when a spirited Bognor side came out second best against a strong Dartford team.
After falling behind early on, a mazy run and strong finish from left back Kristian Campbell saw the Rocks level.
But in the second period, Dartford’s hold on the match strengthened. Just after the re-start, Calvin Davies was deemed to have lifted his foot too high in the box.
The home side scored the penalty, then netted again on the hour mark to secure a 3-1 win.
Missing from that match were Doug Tuck, Sami El-Abd and James Crane.
With Campbell also set to miss out on the trip to Oxford’s Marsh Lane ground tomorrow (3pm), the Rocks’ thin squad is set to be stretched.
If there is a silver lining then it is that Bognor have saved their best performances of the season for the FA Cup.
In the second qualifying round, a late Crane header saw them past league rivals Weston-super-Mare.
Then two Ollie Pearce strikes secure a 2-0 victory over Eastbourne Borough in the last round.
While many of the players have not been here before, they also have the experience of manager Jack Pearce to lean on.
He was at the helm for the Rocks’ memorable cup runs in the 1980s.
Pearce was also in the dugout the last time the Rocks won through to the first round proper of the competition more than 20 years ago.
The prize that day was a trip to Ashford Town.
But beat Oxford City tomorrow and potential opponents could be far more glamorous.