A tight game played in front of a 991-strong crowd went the way of the home side thanks to sub Tommy-Lee Higgs’ 87th minute goal to put the Rocks just two points off fifth spot. It was their fifth straight league win – and sixth victory in a row if you include the Sussex Senior Cup success at Whitehawk – and Blake was a proud boss after Gary McCann’s high-flying Essex side went home empty-handed.
But Blake has warned the team not to rest on their laurels with the next assignment – away to Haringey – looming on Saturday.
Blake told Rocks Radio: “It was a proper game, first and foremost – two genuinely good teams going toe to toe, and we’ve managed to come out with a win. It’s testament to the players that they kept going.
“We had to ride a little bit of luck – Ryan (Hall) has made a couple of great saves. Gary’s team are a good, strong team – easily one of the best in the league. But we’ve more than matched them.
“It was a great goal from Tommy and a great time to score. It’s a brilliant three points, nothing more than the lads deserved because they’ve been great. We’ve just got to take one game at a time and keep going.
“It wasn’t just the finish for the goal, it was the build-up. Ben Anderson played a great ball, it was a great run from Lucas Pattenden who then showed great composure to set it up for Tommy, who did what he does best.
“Tommy was a bit unlucky not to start the game but when you’re winning games, and with their strength and physicality in the air, we felt that Dan would give s a little more from set pieces and long throws. We’ve got a good squad of players and long may that continue.”
Blake hailed the team for keeping three clean sheets in successive games since letting in four (albeit in a 5-4 win) at Hashtag and added: “I’m pleased with how we’re going. But we’re by no stretch of the imagination the finished article.
“We have to keep trying to get better and get stronger, and we will get stronger as a group.
“You don’t play Billericay every week. They’re a good team and I like their manager and they’ll go close come the end of the season. They’ll be disappointed to lose the game but we’ve given them a game and I’d be surprised if Gary didn’t say we’re a good team.
“In both games we’ve played against them we’ve acquitted ourselves very well. We were very unlucky at their place – we might have got a bit of luck today; it was a tight game and I thought one goal would win it.”
Blake had high praise for midfielder Matt Burgess, who was superb against ’Ricay. “He was brilliant. He’s got real quality – he just goes past people when he wants to. He’s great to have because he gives us something a little different to the others in midfield. When he’s going forward he’s different class. I’m really pleased with his attitude, his commitment, his application in recent weeks.
“Tommy-Lee Higgs and Spencer Spurway have been getting the headlines but Matty is one of the younger players we’ve got who’s very good.”
The crowd was only nine short of 1,000 and they were also praised by Blake: “You can hear them and they get behind the team. We do seem to get that extra energy kicking to the Seasons end. The most important thing is it seems there’s a happy vibe around the place. The fans have been different class – even in the hard times, they were sticking behind us.
“The most important thing as a club, as staff and as players is that we see progress – and I think we’ve seen a lot of progress in the past few weeks.
“But we’ve got to keep going, we can’t just stop and rest on our laurels and think ‘we’re all right now’. We want to get better, we want to have that winning mentality, we want to get stronger. To do that we have to work, and there’s not one player, including the subs, who you can say didn’t work hard. I’m over the moon and I feel like we’re getting somewhere we need to be.”
Defender Harvey Whyte had to come off injured and Pattenden picked up a knock but is fine. Blake said: “We don’t know how serious that is (for Whyte) but it’s just a knock. I was pleased Lucas was okay too.”
by Steve Bone, Bognor Observer – sussexworld.co.uk/sport