Rocks Review: We want to carry on unbeaten run in FA Cup

The scoreboard tells the story as the Rocks celebrate a late equaliser versus Dulwich Hamlet  Picture by Chris Hatton
The scoreboard tells the story as the Rocks celebrate a late equaliser versus Dulwich Hamlet Picture by Chris Hatton

The unbeaten Rocks aim to transfer their league form into the FA Cup on Saturday - and take another major step towards a glamour game.

They go to Kent to face Maidstone in the second qualifying round knowing a win would leave them just two games away from a potential money-spinning tie against a League One or League Two club.

And they do so buoyed by having twice come from behind to hold league leaders Dulwich Hamlet to a 2-2 draw in a Nyewood Lane thriller on Tuesday night.

The result means they have reached the end of September without tasting defeat, which adds up to a better start than in the last campaign when, of course, they ended up missing out on the Ryman one south title by one point.

For now, though, they can turn their attention to the Cup and a return to Sittingbourne to face Maidstone who, as a team in the same division as the Rocks, are seen as beatable if tough opponents.

After this round, just two more remain before teams reach the first round proper, in which clubs from League One and League Two join the non-league survivors.

It’s 16 years since the Rocks reached the ‘proper’ rounds and hopes that this could be their season grow with every game.

Apart from the publicity and pride that accompanies a Cup run, it’s a good earner too. The Rocks have already made £4,500 from getting through the preliminary and first qualifying rounds and they’ll double that if they beat Maidstone.

But bosses Darin Killpartrick and Jamie Howell know the Stones will present an awkward challenge. They’ve hit nine in each of the past two rounds, albeit against lower-league opposition, and have had two aways in the league in the past six days.

Killpartrick said: “We’ve been praying for a bit of rain to soften up the pitch they play on, but it doesn’t look like we’ll get that.

“But we’ll travel there aiming to win, or at least get them back for a replay next Tuesday.”

Howell added: “We’re playing well and have not lost yet this season so we have a good chance. But Maidstone will also be seeing it as a game they can win.”

The managers were delighted with the way the Rocks came from 1-0 and 2-1 down to nab a point from Dulwich Hamlet’s visit on Tuesday, when the Rocks hit the post four times and had one of the clearest penalties most of those present had ever seen not given when Ben Johnson was brought down yards from goal.

That followed a 4-0 romp at Whyteleafe - all in all making it a decent week on the field after the shock departure to Whitehawk of midfielder James Fraser.

The Rocks moved fast to replace him, bringing back Chris Breach to the club just a week after he had left fearing his first-team chances would be limited.

Breach is not yet fully fit and could share midfield duties for a while with Lewis Ide, who is also working his way back to full capacity, and the Rocks don’t want to rush into further additions to their squad.

Howell said: “We’re always looking to see who’s available, but we have competition for places in most areas of the pitch and if we were bringing someone in, it couldn’t be anyone who could just expect to walk into the team.”

The managers wished Fraser well - although some fans have questioned why he has left Nyewood Lane, where he seemed to be enjoying his football, for a club lower down the table where he does not appear to be guaranteed a regular starting spot.