Bognor’s bosses believe they will start the new Isthmian premier season with a squad strong enough to challenge at the top of the table.

They are content with progress after watching 21 different players take the field in their first friendly, a 3-1 defeat at home to National South side Havant on Tuesday night.

The starting XI contained many players likely to be involved in the league opener on August 10 – while the second half involved ten substitutes, mostly trialists keen to prove they can work wonders for the Rocks in the new campaign.

One eye-catcher was former Havant, Salisbury and AFC Totton keeper Charlie Searle, who did his chances of replacing Dan Lincoln as the club’s No1 no harm with a succession of fine saves.

Others to impress included former Pompey academy midfielder Freddie Read and trialist Junior Kamara, while full-back James Crane and attacking utility man Stuart Green got great receptions on their returns to the club.

Robbie Blake said the Havant game had to be seen in the context of the opposition being further into their pre-season schedule than Bognor were, but he was happy with the workout.

“It’s all about assembling a squad ready for August and we feel that with a few more additions we’ll be all right,” he said.

“I thought the lads worked hard. The most important thing is fitness, you can’t do anything without fitness, so the Havant game will have been good for them.”

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