Rocks Review: We’ve got a new safe pair of hands

Mark Zawadski in action for Horsham
Mark Zawadski in action for Horsham

ROCKS boss Jamie Howell is confident he has signed a goalkeeper who can help lay the foundations for another successful season at Nyewood Lane.

Mark Zawadski, who has joined from Burgess Hill, has considerable experience at Ryman premier level and higher after spells with Horsham and Basingstoke.

The Rocks had considered signing him before but made their move after Craig Stoner announced he was leaving.

Zawadski is the Rocks’ first summer signing but Howell hopes to make two or three more to strengthen the squad ahead of the season’s start.

The new keeper lives in Midhurst and Howell is delighted to sign him.

“I’ve known him for some time. He came to us for a pre-season game last year and did well,” Howell said.

“When Craig said he was retiring, we had to look at our options. We considered the lad (Johnny Hendrick) from Littlehampton but have eventually gone with experience.

“We have a very young squad and felt the position of goalkeeper was the right place to have someone who’s been there and done it.

“Mark ticks all the boxes. He’s six foot three or four and has a lot of experience. He’s about 30 and looks after himself well.”

Fans welcomed Zawadski’s arrival, believing the Rocks had recruited a very able replacement for Stoner, who had been at Nyewood Lane since 2001.

One fan said on the messageboard: “I’ve rated Mark ever since he made the best save I’ve ever seen – for Basingstoke against us quite a few years ago. It was a stunning point-blank reaction save and I’ve remembered the name since.

“I’m excited to see him in action and a bit surprised he hasn’t played for bigger clubs.”

The next priorities for the Rocks are to find another centre-half and centre-forward. The lack of goals scored was a key factor that prevented a serious push for the play-offs. “We’ve targeted four and so far we’ve got one,” added Howell.

“At the moment, I’m okay with that, but there are other pieces of the jigsaw I’d like to put in place before the season begins.”

The Rocks are open-minded about whether other signings are long-term or loans.

The squad return for pre-season training next Wednesday, kicking off a run of three sessions a week.

Howell said he was confident everyone would return in good shape, ready for hard work ahead of the season.

The list of friendlies has grown by one more: the Rocks will travel to Woodside Road on Friday, August 2, to play Worthing, who are gearing up for another Ryman one south campaign.

Howell said: “We normally play them and it will be good to do so again. We normally get a good test against them.

“I think our programme of friendlies is about right – six games against a mixture of teams who play at higher and lower levels.”