Restless Rocks fans have been told by the club’s management duo: You have to trust us.
A number of supporters have expressed fears the campaign is going off the rails after another below-par performance and two dropped points in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to struggling Whistable.
The result means the Rocks have won just two of their past six games after a storming start to the season.
And there are fears over how they will replace key midfield duo Michael Birmingham and James Fraser – and now veteran striker Luke Nightingale, who has retired because of persistent knee problems.
It’s turning into a time of transistion for the team, but that could make the expected Ryman one south title challenge difficult to sustain.
But bosses Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick have asked for fans to be patient and put their trust in them as they try to keep things on track. The Rocks’ midfield problems have not been helped by an ankle injury which has kept out Kane Wills for the past fortnight, and the club have also been knocked back in their attempts to bring in new recruits – with Burgess Hill midfield man Lloyd Cotton deciding against a move to Nyewood Lane this week.
On Saturday they go to Walton Casuals – where they won 5-0 in the league cup last week – needing a win to restore the faith of some fans who were disappointed they started so poorly against Whitstable and couldn’t beat them.
Howell (right) said: “We’re missing key components. Kane is a big miss – he is an unsung hero because he can do what Birmy used to and get the ball from deep and get us moving forward. When we don’t have someone who can do that, it stifles our play.
“We’ve lost good players, the latest being Luke, and they’re hard to replace. They’re hard to find, and even when you do find one you have to look at whether you can afford them.
“It’s not ideal rebuilding during the season but that’s the way it’s happened for us. We’ve had knockbacks but the search goes on. We need fans to be patient. We’re a bit disappointed with some comments from fans. There’s been a call for Birmy to come back but it’s not going to happen. Even if it were possible, it would be delaying the inevitable.
“Others say the youth team players should be involved, despite them having had just one game each. Dabba and I know the squad and know what we can do with them – fans have to trust us to do what’s best for the club.”
Killpartrick said the draw with Whitstable was down to ‘unacceptable’ defending from the Rocks and he was unhappy it needed the bosses in the dugout and the side’s least experienced player – full-back Darryl Wollers – to spark them into life.
“I don’t think we’re fit enough – possibly because we’ve been playing matches and not training on Tuesday nights. We’ve addressed and started to work them harder and more intensely this week and I think we’ll see a reaction,” Killpartrick said.
“But it’s not a time to panic. We can look east or west for players and even then we don’t have a big catchment area. Other clubs pick up players to the north and to the south is the seas, and we can’t get players from there.”
Wills may make the trip to Walton, but is more likely to be fit for a Sussex Senior Cup second-round tie at Rye next Wednesday.