Blunt Rocks challenged to sharpen up again

Dan Sackman and Craig Robson make sure Grant Smith have a Kingstonian attack covered  Picture by Chris Hatton
Dan Sackman and Craig Robson make sure Grant Smith have a Kingstonian attack covered Picture by Chris Hatton

JAMIE HOWELL wants his ‘blunt’ Rocks to rediscover their sharpness for the season’s final fling.

They fired blanks this week to lose 2-0 at Bury Town and draw 0-0 at home to play-off rivals Kingstonian - and are showing signs of tiredness.

Howell said the hectic schedule of games was a factor, but could not be used an excuse. And he called on his troops to raise themselves for one last big effort for league and cup honours.

They’ll be helped by the loan signing of ex-Pompey, Reading and Bournemouth midfielder, who has joined from Gosport to add experience to the stretched squad.

With other sides near the top of the Ryman premier also dropping points, the Rocks remain in fourth place with games in hand on many rivals - an ideal platform from which to bid for a play-off spot.

They host Harrow this weekend hoping to find the goal touch that has eluded them in three of their last four, with home fans now having witnessed two successive 0-0 draws.

Niggling injuries aren’t helping, with about half the squad needing checks on bruises and strains before the weekend.

Howell felt a point was a fair return from an even tussle with Kingstonian on Tuesday. “In the first half we played well and shaded it but the second half was theirs,” he said.

“On its own, it’s a decent result against another side chasing the play-offs but the lack of goals recently is a concern. We look blunt and need that to change.

“The fixture schedule is tough now and is a factor but it would be too easy to use it as an excuse. Most teams are playing two or three games a week.

“Up front Terry Dodd has a bruised toe but has to had to play through, Ollie Pearce has played many more games that I’d have liked him to this season and now Dan Thompson’s got a broken rib. That’s typical of how things have gone for us,” he said.

“We’ve had an excellent season and don’t intend to let it peter out. To be in with a chance of a play-off place and a cup-final at this stage of things is heartening but we need to keep battling on.”

Dodd is set to play through the pain on Saturday while keeper Grant Smith and defenders Paul Hinshelwood, Stuart Axten and James Crane all have knocks. Captain Kane Wills is still a week or so away from returning after an ankle injury.

The club may bring in another loan and aren’t afraid to throw youth-team stars like winger Ryan Morey and midfield man Johan Van Driel into the first team.

The team do get a few days between matches after the Harrow game - but that’s the calm before the storm, as next Thursday’s visit to Enfield is the first of NINE games in 24 days, only two of which are at home.

STEVE BONE

Get first news of Rocks v Harrow on this website on Saturday evening