FRUSTRATED Rocks boss Jamie Howell reflected on another difficult week for the club and told fans to prepare for season of rebuilding.
Hopes of any sort of Ryman premier promotion challenge are fading and Howell has called for fans to be patient while the management developed the new-look team ionto one that could challenge in the future.
The Rocks sit 20th – one outside the relegation zone – and are already out of the FA Cup. But they are picking up the odd win, like the hard-earned 1-0 victory at Grays last Saturday, as a team still being moulded shows positive signs for the longer-term.
As ever, the Rocks are not being helped by injury setbacks. Striker Stuart Green and midfielder Doug Tuck are the latest to pick up potentiually long-term problems, going down with ankle and arm injuries respectively at Met Police on Tuesday night.
Both are being checked this week to see how long their knocks will keep them out, with the Rocks desperately hoping the two key men will not be out for long.
Full-back Paul Hinshelwood is already facing missing the rest of the season with serious cruciate damage – while more minor problems such as illness and work commitments robbed Howell of the services of Ben Johnson and Dan Thompson for the Met Police game, which the Rocks lost 2-0 despite playing well.
The truth is the Rocks are still trying to strengthen at a time when they’d have liked to have their squad complete.
They have recruited 19-year-old Swindon defender Curtis da Costa on loan and have even inquired about the availability of former Nyewood Lane goal machine Jason Prior – but have been told by their Ryman premier rivals Margate he is not available for a loan move.
Howell said he and the whole club management were working hard to improve the squad and would continue to do so. It’s a squad that was decimated in the summer by the departures of the likes of Kane Wills, Stuart Axten and Terry Dodd.
He said: “It’s been such a frustrating season so far. We’d hoped to get one or more key players in sooner but it didn’t happen and this is very much a rebuilding year – that’s something everyone will have to get used to.
“We’re starting again and there’s no easy solution or magic solution. We’re having to do a lot of chopping and changing but we do have the nucleus of a good side. We have good players and we are playing well – we’re just not scoring.
“Goals are not an easy thing to find. The players we have up front have done well – Stuart, Ollie Pearce and Alex Parsons have all been working hard and scoring – but there’s still something missing.
“I really appreciate the backing we get from our supporters but I hope they realise the difficulties we are facing. We’re like a youth team at the moment – we have a lot of potential but we’re not the finished product.”
The Rocks’ FA Cup defeat to a late goal in their first qualifying round replay at Lewes last Wednesday gives them this Saturday off – a blessing given Green, Tuck, knee-injury victim Charlie Oatway and Johnson, sixk in midweek, all need recovery time.
They are due to visit Harrow next Tuesday, though that will also be off if their hosts draw at VCD in the FA Cup on Saturday.
If that game does go ahead it will be the Rocks’ SIXTH midweek away trip of the season and Howell described their early-season fixture list as ‘a disaster’.
“I know it’s football and you have to get on with it but on top of everything else, the number of away games we’ve had on a Monday or Tuesday has just been another factor that’s gone against us,” he added.