ROCKS REVIEW: We’re flying - but things will get tougher now

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick warn the hard work is ahead of the Rocks
Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick warn the hard work is ahead of the Rocks

The Rocks’ 100 per cent start to 2011 has continued with two more wins and nine goals but they have been warned: Games are going to get harder.

The Rocks’ 100 per cent start to 2011 has continued with two more wins and nine goals but they have been warned: Games are going to get harder.

They’re the form team in Ryman one south with five straight league wins to their name this year and 17 goals scored in the process.

But joint manager Jamie Howell says the form table will alert opponents to their ability and set them up as scalps for sides lower down the table.

They go to Whyteleafe on Saturday unbeaten in the league since October and with top spot in their sights - while also knowing there is bound to be a slip-up or two at some point.

Howell and fellow boss Darin Killpartrick have paid tribute to their players - and to the fans who they say is like a goal start at the moment.

A 5-0 hammering of Fleet at Nyewood Lane and 4-2 triumph on Tuesday’s tricky trip to Merstham have left the Rocks just two points behind leaders Met Police – who visit Nyewood Lane on Saturday week – and level on points with second-placed Whitehawk.

Howell said: “We’re on an excellent run and we have a lot of players in decent form at the same time. But that will make us a target for teams who will be desperate to be the ones who end our run.

“When we go to Whyteleafe, who are near the bottom of the league, a lot of people will expect us to win comfortably. But it’s rarely that straightforward. Whyteleafe will see it as a big game and will be up for winning it.

“The chances are we will lose a game we don’t expect to and the big test will be how we recover if and when that happens.”

Killpartrick added: “I won’t tire of saying week after week that we will continue to keep our feet on the ground and take one game at a time.”

Although it’s the goal glut making many of the headlines of late, the bosses have hailed keeper Craig Stoner and the defence for playing an equally-important part in the recent success.

Stoner saved a penalty against Fleet then made some superb stops to keep the score at 1-1 in the first half of Merstham.

Meanwhile centre-half Stuart Axten has slotted back in seamlessly after two months out with a knee injury and 18-year-old Perry Ryan has switched to right-back without any fuss.

The side have also coped well without midfielder James Fraser, despite him having been one of the key men in the side. He may not be quite fit to return at Whyteleafe but should be available at Faversham next Tuesday.

Howell said: “From front to back, we’ve players who are doing the jobs we want them to do and are doing them well. We’ve got goals coming from throughout the team and we’re defending as a team too.”

Killpartrick reserved special praise for the growing band of fans following the Rocks.

Home crowds are now regularly above 400 – more than 25 per cent up on Conference South attendances at the Lane of two or three years ago - while at away games, the green army often outnumbers the home support.

Killpartrick said: “We have a brilliant following and the lift that gives us is worth a goal, I think. I can’t praise them enough, especially when so many of them are somehow getting to all these midweek away games in far-flung places.”