Young players’ spirit delights Blake as Bognor Regis Town prepare for Enfield test

Robbie Blake praised his patched-up outfit for a gritty display that earned a draw against Wingate & Finchley -- then asked them to replicate their courage on the ball when high-flying Enfield visit the MKM Area on Saturday.
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Dan Gifford struck twice in the second half to bring the Rocks level at 2-2 after the hosts went 2-0 down before the break – through an Anointed Chukwu penalty and a strike from Mathew Achuba -- and Blake's charges looked as if they might go on to complete the comeback and grab the victory.

It was a fearless performance from the home team given the youngsters who featured because of the injury crisis at Nyewood Lane. Blake was without skipper Calvin Davies, Harvey Whyte, Isaac Olaniyan, Kieran Douglas, Ben Anderson and Spencer Spurway as well as Dan Smith, who recently departed after sustaining a season-ending groin problem.

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Youngsters such as Joe Briffa and Oliver Downs started the game while the bench was made up of Alfie Bridgman and four teenagers as Blake looked to the Rocks youth ranks to bolster his severelly limited options.

The Rocks and Wingate do battle in the soggy surroundings of Nyewood Lane | Picture: Lyn PhillipsThe Rocks and Wingate do battle in the soggy surroundings of Nyewood Lane | Picture: Lyn Phillips
The Rocks and Wingate do battle in the soggy surroundings of Nyewood Lane | Picture: Lyn Phillips

But those selected rolled up their sleeves and showed great character to take the game to the visitors on a rain-soaked pitch that was only playable thanks to heroics of groundsman James Askew and a team of fork-wielding volunteers.

Talk of breaking in to the play-off places has dissipated for Bognor, currently in 10th place in the league standings, but Blake has urged his players to give their all in the run-in.

And Blake said: "I am so proud of what was an unbelievable performance and if we can just keep these young players and integrate them with some key signings in the summer we will be a good side.

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"In reality it will be very tough for us to get in the play-offs because of the players we have missing. But it was really encouraging to see a group of hungry young players who refused to let the season peter out. I said to them before the game, 'wear the shirt with pride and run thought a brick wall for each other and they did that’.

"Some of our play was unbelievable, sensational actually -- we created loads of chances and for our lads to be 2-0 down and to come back and draw was brilliant. I thought we were outstanding and actually deserved to win the game the way we fought back with courage, bravery and skill.

"Once the dust has settled I will be asking them to go again at home against Enfield on Saturday and if the can maintain those levels I will be really, really pleased."

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