The patched-up Rocks go into FA Cup battle at Maidenhead on Saturday being told: Be fearless – but don’t be gung-ho.
Jamie Howell’s injury-hit squad have been drawn away to a Conference South side for the third season running but want to fare better than at Sutton last year and Eastleigh in 2010.
Maidenhead are fourth in Conference South and Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick want their troops to give themselves a chance of victory.
A win or draw would be fantastic and give the club a much-needed cash boost at a time when resources are being stretched by injuries.
The Rocks go into the game on the back of a goodstart in the league, last Saturday’s 3-1 win at Wingate & Finchley taking them seventh.
Howell said: “We can’t go there thinking we’re bound to get beaten. If we go with that approach, we will be. You always have a chance in the Cup and we can learn from what happened at Sutton last year. They were in a very similar position to the one Maidenhead were in and ended up winning comfortably - it was 4-0.
“We had a few chances early on then got well-beaten. We were a bit gung-ho.
“We’ll be more cautious this time – not negative but cautious. We need to play our way into the game.”
The Rocks’ hopes of a long-overdue extended run in the Cup – it’s 17 years since their most recent run to the first round – have been badly hit by early-season injuries.
Striker Ashley Robinson and winger Ben Johnson were already long-term absentees, then last weekend saw another two key men ruled out. James Crane failed a fitness test at Wingate following a chest injury sustained in training, although he should be okay to return at Maidenhead.
Skipper Ben Andrews tore a thigh muscle early on at Wingate and faces between a fortnight and a month on the sidelines, though the Rocks did initially fear he could be out for much longer.
Left-back Daryl Wollers may need surgery if a groin problem turns out to be a hernia.
That’s on top of last year’s skipper Dan Beck taking a break from football and centre-half Tim Bond still being out with a groin injury. Johnson should find out within the next week whether he has cartilage damage or a more serious cruciate ligament problem.
The casualty list has forced forward Steve Harper to be used as an emergency centre-back.
Another new face, young ex-Pompey forward Carl Walshe, came on at Wingate and may feature again.
The club are considering a couple of loans but money is tight because injuries don’t free up money in the budget.
Coach Killpartrick said: “We hope fans understand that the club need to stay on an even keel and can’t spend money we don’t have.
“We did extremely well to win last weekend with five or six big players unavailable but we can’t finance a lot of new players coming in.
“Unless anyone in the community wants to help us with finances, we have what we have and must keep punching on with a young squad.”