ROCKS REVIEW: Performance concern in play-off race

A late attempt by Rocks' Terry Dodd is saved
A late attempt by Rocks' Terry Dodd is saved

JAMIE HOWELL knows that points win prizes – but admits his side’s performances are cause for concern in the play-off race’s sprint finish.

The Rocks have lifted themselves up to third in the Ryman Premier with two wins from their last three games.

They produced a dramatic comeback from 3-0 down to win 4-3 at Grays on Thursday, beat Wingate & Finchley 1-0 with a late penalty on Saturday, before suffering a 4-3 reverse at Hampton & Richmond on Tuesday night.

The Rocks boss was satisfied with the points haul from three games in six days, but wants his side to improve after labelling their defending at Hampton ‘disgraceful’.

With Wealdstone being crowned champions on Tuesday, just a point separates the next four places in the table – AFC Hornchurch and Bognor on 79 and Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian on 78.

Concerns that Rocks, although well placed, may miss out on a top-five finish, have been raised, but Howell wants two wins from their last three league matches to haul them over the line.

He said: “In the last three games we have taken six points from nine and that included two difficult away games at Hampton and Grays.

“I am pleased with the return of points, but was not pleased with the way we have played.

“We conceded three at Grays and four at Hampton and that is setting alarm bells ringing and a stat which worries me, but hopefully we can cut out the errors.

“We could have gone second with three wins from the week and almost have secured a play-off place, but we are looking at it now that we need two wins from the three games we have left.

“It’s very, very tight at the top and no-one wants to lose out and we shouldn’t if we can get back to the way we had been playing.”

Bognor now travel to Maidstone on Saturday, who sit just outside the play-off places in sixth, three points behind Kingstonian, before hosting Hendon on Easter Monday.

Kingstonian and Dulwich losing over the weekend, as well as Hornchurch not taking maximum points, did Bognor a favour, but Howell isn’t paying much attention to other results.

He added: “At this stage of the season, it’s all about looking after yourselves, worrying about your results and peaking at the right time. We need to win games rather than hope others slip up.

“We are trying to take all the positives we can, but we are looking tired. All four goals we conceded on Tuesday night were comical. Our defending was nothing short of disgraceful and I am just hoping the boys get back to coping how they have been.”

Craig Robson struggling with his breathing owing to illness is a concern for Bognor ahead of Saturday, although Paul Hinshelwood should be fit despite an ankle knock.