Rocks Review: Harper bid is vital after striker’s injury

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The goal-happy Rocks are set to keep hold of Steve Harper until the turn of the year as they look to keep up their sizzling run.

They were already talking to Met Police about keeping the frontman at Nyewood Lane – but a hamstring injury to Terry Dodd, plus three goals in two games for Harper, have intensified their desire to extend his loan.

The former Burgess Hill forward has been a key man in a month which has seen the Rocks put their early-season stutters firmly behind them with a string of good results and goal feasts.

Harper and Ben Andrews have added new dimensions to a team who were in need of a boost after the loss of four first-choice players in two months.

The Rocks won 4-0 at Merstham on Saturday and followed it with a 6-0 hammering of Godalming at Nyewood Lane on Tuesday night. Harper and Andrews both scored at Merstham and Harper netted two more in midweek, as did James Crane, revelling in his new role in midfield.

Joint manager Jamie Howell said they’d love to keep Harper at the club and it was looking likely to happen.

“I’ve spoken to the manager at the Met Police, who have been very good with us over Steve, and they seem happy for him to stay another month if he is getting games,” Howell said.

“We’ll speak to Steve and we’re hopeful he’ll be keen to stay. It would be for another month for now, and then we’ll see how things are after that.”

The week’s two big wins took the Rocks’ league goal tally to 52 in 17 games and gave them a plus-38 goal difference.

They’re statistics which please the management, but they know they have to keep their squad’s feet on the ground.

At times in recent weeks, the Rocks have looked a better side even than the one who so nearly won the title last season.

But the games keep on coming thick and fast. High-flying Maidstone visit the Lane on Saturday and Faversham are in town next Tuesday, before the Rocks go to Walton & Hersham the following Saturday.

Joint manager Darin Killpartick said: “We’re playing well and Tuesday was one of our best performances.

“What pleased me was how we pressurised them. Knowing where, when and how to press is an improving part of our game.

“We have a good blend in midfield and players in form in all areas. And Steve Harper and Ben Andrews are experienced players who have settled in faster than we could have hoped.

“But there’s no chance of us getting carried away by recent results. No-one will be complacent. You only have to look at our next fixture to see we can take nothing for granted. Maidstone have been going well and will test us.”

Howell said: “Maidstone will be a different proposition and then we play Faversham, who have just beaten Maidstone. We’d expect two tough games but we have good self-belief.”

Harper could slot straight into Dodd’s striker role against the Stones on Saturday – Dodd will be out for at least a fortnight with his hamstring tear, although another option would be to move Andrews forward and bring back Chris Breach in defence.

Andrews and full-back Darryl Wollers should both be fine for Saturday despite picking up minor knocks, but defender Tim Bond and midfielder Lewis Ide are still working back to fitness.