BOWERS & Pitsea boss Rob Small was overjoyed after finishing the campaign with the country’s best defence from steps one to four.

The Isthmian North champions conceded just 25 goals in 38 league outings and also kept a club record 21 clean sheets.

And Small believes having a strong defence laid the foundations as Bowers ensured they will be playing Isthmian Premier League football next term.

Small said: “We finished the season having conceded the least goals from steps one to four and that is a fantastic achievement.

“We conceded 25 goals, which is the best record from 14 divisions across the country.

“Keeping 21 clean sheets is also a new club record and I think that having a defence you can rely on is vital if you want to enjoy success.

“We pride ourselves on our work without the ball.

“We knew we wouldn’t play the prettiest football but I was aware that the team who conceded the least goals and had the meanest defence in the division would finish the season as champions.”

Although Small was keen to praise his side’s defensive record, the manager’s player of the year award went to striker David Knight.

The frontman finished the campaign as the Isthmian North’s top scorer, with 36 goals to his name.

Knight, who counts Canvey Island among his former clubs, found the back of the net an astonishing 42 times in just 43 appearances in all competitions.

And Small is enthused by Knight’s hunger to score goals.

“David had a phenomenal season,” added the Bowers chief.

“He knows that he will be judged on the amount of goals he scores and if he hasn’t scored in a game he gets frustrated.

“But he also leads from the front, which is great.

“He can’t bare not winning and he works extremely hard for the team.

“I’m sure that David would be the first to say that he would not have been able to score the amount of goals he did this season without getting the service from all of those around him.

“The other 10 players on the pitch are vital if David is to produce what we know he can.”

Knight’s incredible goal tally comes despite needing more than a month to get on the scoresheet after the turn of the year and having to settle for a number of appearances off the bench.

“Every player needs to be managed,” insisted Small.

“I think that every player also needs a wake-up call and that frustrating run probably brought the best out in him.”