ROCK REVIEW: Why end of run of Tuesday matches is good news

The Rocks are hoping the end of their hectic run of midweek games will make them even more consistent for the promotion run-in.

They’ve played a midweek game every week so far this year, but now have no more scheduled until at least the end of March.

The difference in form between Saturdays and weekdays is remarkable: on Saturdays this season they have won 15 out of 15 league games, while midweek league matches have seen them win just five out of 14.

Lethargic home displays on Tuesday last week and this week, when 20th-placed Whitstable held the Rocks to a 1-1 draw and almost beat them, have slowed the side’s charge towards promotion. But a 2-1 win at muddy Eastbourne lifted them in between.

Now the management are hoping a month in which they’ll play only on Saturdays will see a better points-per-game return.

By anyone’s standards it’s been a hectic schedule. This weekend’s home clash with Corinthian Casuals will be the Rocks’ 15th game in the first 50 days of 2011, and some players will have featured in all 15.

They’ve gone clear at the top in that time but signs of tiredness are there - and on Wednesday Met Police notched their own 2-1 win at Eastbourne to cut the Rocks’ lead to three points.

Good chances were spurned by a number of players, including top-scorer Jason Prior, who was flown back from a work commitment in Scotland for the game and who joked after the game he should have stayed north of the border.

Joint boss Darin Killpartrick said: “I was elated to win at Eastbourne. On a poor surface we showed great character.

“But on Tuesday we weren’t at our best. That’s happened in a couple of midweek games after good wins the weekend before. Now we’ll be able to measure how we cope playing once a week.”

Fellow manager Jamie Howell said: “We didn’t take our chances in either of the past two home games but we’re still creating them. We’ll soon see if playing once a week makes a difference.”

Killpartrick is demanding goals from centre-halves, Stuart Axten and Tim Bond, saying they have not contributed towards the team’s total. “They need to be scoring the odd goal here and there to take some of the pressure off those who are scoring,” he said. “They should be getting in the box at set-pieces and making a nuisance of themselves.”

One defender who is impressing is full-back Jon Marzetti. He’s filled in ably during Perry Ryan’s ban, making it difficult for the bosses to drop him.

Howell said: “For me, Jon’s our find of the season. He turned up and we didn’t know what to make of him. He’s only a teenager but he’s done everything we could have asked of him.”

Midfielder James Fraser, struggling with knee and back problems, looks set to be rested against Corinthians. But Michael Birmingham seems certain to start, while the management may consider using a second winger.

* The home game with Leatherhead will now take place on Tuesday, April 5 - not March 1 as planned, with the Surrey side are in cup action.

* Next Wednesday (February 23) Nyewood Lane hosts a Pompey under-15s game (7pm). Admission is free