Rocks Review: Pressure is relentless - Rocks have to be relentless too

James Crane and Terry Dodd celebrate one of Dodd's goals at Chipstead  Picture by Tommy McMillan
James Crane and Terry Dodd celebrate one of Dodd's goals at Chipstead Picture by Tommy McMillan

Seven games to go – six wins needed. It sounds like a simple calculation but the Rocks are being warned: There’s a long way to go yet.

The title-chasers got back to winning ways with a 3-1 success at Chipstead on Saturday to stay top and keep the destiny of the championship in their own hands.

But Dulwich Hamlet and Whitehawk are keeping up their dogged pursuit of the Nyewood Lane troops, whose bosses believe the promotion race could again go to a nail-biting final day of the season.

This Saturday comes a home clash with Hythe, one of the surprise packages of the Ryman one south campaign, and the Rocks know there’s no taking their foot off the gas.

At least, for now, the club’s injury woes are clearing.

Forward Steve Harper has an outside chance of being in the 16 on Saturday after making a quick recovery from an Achilles problem, although is more likely to make his comeback at week later at Crawley Down.

Ben Andrews is fit again and ready to step into the breach at centre-half or centre-forward after proving he is over recent knee surgery. And there’s even a distant hope skipper Dan Beck could recover from his broken collarbone in time to return before the end of the season.

The Rocks also welcomed back Sutton defender Osa Obamwonyi for a second loan spell in time to play at Chipstead, while winger Antonio Gonella, recruited from Folkestone, boosts their attacking options for the run-in.

They may yet add another goalkeeper and striker to the squad before the March 31 transfer deadline to ensure they have adequate cover.

Joint boss Jamie Howell was delighted by the professional manner in which the team went about their task at Chipstead four days after the setback of a surprise defeat at Eastbourne Town.

He had particular praise for goalscorers Terry Dodd – who got two – and James Crane, not just for the part they played in the victory but for their important roles over the season.

“I’d say it was a reasonably comfortable win,” said Howell. “We started well but missed a few decent chances in the first half. When you’ve just lost a game 1-0 and you start to miss chances a few doubts can creep in. But we upped it a bit and took a grip on the game after half-time.

“I was pleased for Terry with his goals. He’s had a period where he’s been a bit off the boil but he’s been working hard in training and it’s paying off.

“His first goal was a one-on-one which he made look easy and his second was a great strike from 25 yards – the sort that comes with confidence. We want him to push on now and keep scoring.

“As for James, his goals have been just reward for the fine job he’s done for us in midfield. He’s a real asset who gives us an extra goalscoring option.”

Fellow boss Darin Killpartrick said the players motivated themselves at half-time to go on and win the game.

“We didn’t need to say much, really. The team knew they needed to go up a gear and stirred themselves into doing that,” he said. “We want to get Terry Dodd moving up the goal charts while James Crane has shown in training he is, from a technical viewpoint, a fantastic finisher.”

Howell said Hythe – who he watched draw 0-0 at Whyteleafe on Tuesday night – would present a stiff test.

They’re on course for a top-half finish and Howell said: “They’re physically strong but have evolved into a side who like to get the ball down and use their two wide players.”