ROB Small believes his squad’s strength in depth could prove crucial as Bowers & Pitsea look to seal the Isthmian North title.

Bowers are 11 points clear at the summit and came from behind, with 10 men, to beat Mildenhall Town 2-1 thanks to goals from substitutes Jamie Dicks and James Thomas at the weekend.

Max Cornhill also came off the bench to score an injury time winner against fellow high-flyers Maldon & Tiptree last month and Small feels Bowers are reaping the benefits of having a stronger squad than what was at his disposal last term.

Bowers boss Small, whose side missed on promotion by goal difference last season, said: “James is one of the division’s most underrated players, while Jamie has been one of our top performers this season.

“Max has played in the National League and is a top professional. He is very good to have in the dressing room.

“In years gone by, we haven’t had players of that calibre fighting to get into the team.

“We have had similar instances in the past, where we have been challenging for promotion, and we had less capable players coming into the team because of injuries or suspensions.

“We lost Lewis Manor to a suspension for three matches last season and we only took three out of the nine points on offer in those games.

“That proved key in the end, but we have strength in depth now and that is crucial if you want to succeed.”

The vital contributions of Bowers’ substitutes has allowed the table-toppers to go on a nine match winning run and remain in pole position to claim the title.

But the impressive run of form has resulted in Small finding it difficult to make changes to his starting line-up.

And Small, who was named Isthmian North manager of the month after leading Bowers to five wins from as many games in February, has hailed the attitude of his players.

Small added: “It is nice to not be making changes but, at the same time, I am conscious that there are players out of the side that perhaps don’t deserve to just be on the bench.

“The players are disappointed not to be in the side, but they come to training in good spirits and also make an impact when they do come on.

“That says more about these players than anything I do.

“The players have bought into what we are trying to do this season and they have shown characteristics of what we are trying to do.”