Rocks Review: Striker search launched as duo work towards fitness

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The Rocks want to bring in another striker to help them keep scoring while their first-choice forwards work their way back to full fitness.

Another home game without a Rocks goal on Tuesday night hammered home once more that the team are playing some great football but not reaping its rewards.

Ashley-Paul Robinson is rated as being only 70 per cent as he continues on the comeback trail after knee surgery while his first-choice strike partner Terry Dodd - having recovered from a broken toe - has now suffered a recurrence of shin splints.

The management are looking to recruit a striker who can help them bridge the gap and ensure they don’t get bogged down by another goal drought.

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick are delighted by much of the football their side are producing but are acutely aware of the need for more firepower. Killpartrick described the team’s efforts in the final third in the midweek 1-0 Isthmian League Cup defeat to Whitehawk as ‘sterile’.

Howell said: “We’re not scoring enough goals - we don’t look like we’ve a lot of firepower. There are reasons for that, chiefly that we’ve not had any luck with injuries. All our strikers have been injured at different times.

“We need to address it, ideally by bringing someone in. But quality strikers tend to be settled with clubs by this time of the season and don’t come cheap.

“We have budgetary boundaries to keep to and if it comes to it, we may have to get on by with what we have and wait and hope Ashley-Paul and Terry are fully fit soon.”

Their problems didn’t stop them notching another away league win at the weekend - their 2-1 win at Lowestoft coming courtesy of goals by James Crane and Steve Harper.

That left them in fifth place - the final play-off spot - but Howell said despite the healthy league position, it was still a frustrating time.

He added: “The lads are doing what we ask of them but you can’t help thinking what we’d be achieving with a full squad. Some of our football is excellent but we’re not as clinical as we need to be to keep doing well at this level.”

Some of the club’s injury concerns are easing - but with each player who returns to fitness, it does seem they lose another to a new problem.

Central defender Stuart Axten has come through a game-and-a-half after two months out but skipper and centre-half Ben Andrews faces an uncertain immediate future after tweaking his knee again in his comeback at Hastings.

But defensive options have been boosted by a new loan deal that will keep impressive Reading starlet Matt Partridge at Nyewood Lane until Boxing Day.

Full-back Daryl Wollers remains a worry over a hernia problem but may escape the need for an op.

Tuesday night saw Jon Marzetti and Harper pick up strains which Howell and Killpartrick hope won’t put them in doubt for Sunday’s trip to Cray Wanderers.

The game has been put back 24 hours because Cray ground-share with Bromley, who have a home FA Trophy tie on Saturday.

Howell said: “We’ve been doing well away from home - away games suit us because teams have to come on to us, and that allows us to play. But I’ve seen Cray and they’re a good side. They pop it about and play nice football.”

After that the Rocks make the short trip to Selsey for a Sussex Senior Cup tie next Tuesday, when Howell will be up against his brother-in-law Adam Hinshelwood, who has returned to the High Street Ground as manager.