Rocks ready for most hectic stage of season

The Rocks celebrate their second goal against Harrow  Picture by Tommy McMillan
The Rocks celebrate their second goal against Harrow Picture by Tommy McMillan

THE ROCKS head into their most hectic period of the season insisting they’re ready for the challenge of four games in eight days.

Three of those four are away from Nyewood Lane and the fixtures come with the team still in with a chance of league and cup success.

They were boosted ahead of last night’s visit to Enfield by defender Stuart Axten and striker Ollie Pearce joining skipper Kane Wills in returning to the ranks after injury.

But on a bad night for the Rocks, when they lost 2-1 to a late strike by the home side after Craig Robson had put them ahead, Pearce limped out of the warm-up and Harvey Whyte was stretcherd off with a serious-looking injury.

Last Saturday’s 3-2 home win over Harrow saw the Rocks blow a two-goal lead but then score a late winner - a timely boost, coming after two successive goalless draws in front of their own fans. The loss at Enfield was a setback but they remain in the thick of the promotion race.

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick will know the south-east road network very well soon after taking the team to Margate on Saturday, Lancing on Monday for a Sussex Senior Cup semi-final against Horsham YMCA and Grays next Thursday. They follow that with a home game against Wingate & Finchley on Saturday week.

Howell said: “Some of our injuries have cleared up at just the right time and with so many games, we’ll need all the players we have.

“It will be a testing period but we’ve been playing well and the spirit’s good.”

Howell said he was delighted to have Wills back after several weeks out with an ankle problem, and with Igoe now in the mix, he had excellent options in midfield.

Youth-team players such as Johan van Driel and Ryan Morey have been on the bench lately and could well come into the manager’s plans as the games come thick and fast, while loan striker Ashley Harris is fit and thirsting for action.

Arron Hopkinson should be available after missing the win ove Harrow, while midfielder Harvey Whyte’s form since his return from injury has been another plus for the management.

They have signed full-back Michael Weir as defensive cover. Weir had a short spell at Nyewood Lane earlier this season before moving to Ryman premier rivals Dulwich Hamlet.

Killpartrick said: “It will be hectic but we have a squad who are young enough and fit enough to cope with it. We won’t let our bodies rule our minds.”

The coach said they’d not be taking cup semi-finalists Horsham YMCA - of division one of the Sussex League - lightly on Monday, adding: “We’re desperate to get to what would be our third county cup final in five seasons.”

Get the first reports from Margate, the cup semi-final and Grays on this website

STEVE BONE