Howell admits Rocks aim for the season has changed

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Rocks joint manager Jamie Howell has admitted that the club’s aims from the start of the season have shifted.

But despite a fine run of form, which helped earn Howell and Darin Killpartrick the Ryman Division 1 South manager of the month accolade for November, they aren’t getting carried away just yet.

After two consecutive relegations, firstly from Conference South and then the Ryman Premier last season, the duo had set out their aims as safety this season.

But with 14 games gone in the league, ten of those as wins under their belts, sitting fourth in the table, as well as a place against Conference South side Lewes in the last 16 of the county cup, Howell believes they could be looking at the play-offs come the end of the season.

Recent form is good and in November the management duo scooped their award by guiding the team to three straight league victories and took Conference South side Hampton and Richmond to a replay in the FA Trophy.

But Howell has insisted there is still a long way to go, and with their last two games, Saturday’s trip to Faversham and Tuesday’s home game against Ramsgate, both falling to the weather, he believes a busy Christmas period, where they face teams in and around them in the play-off places, could give them a good indication.

He said: “Our primary concern at the start of the season was to stop the rot and consolidate, which we have. We got some good results early on and gelled as a team more quickly than we expected.

“We are very pleased with the position we are in at the moment and it would be nice to try and stay around the play-offs at the end of the season.

“It is too early to say at the moment, though, we have not played a lot of the teams around us yet.

“After December and January when we play a lot of the team near us, we will have we will have a good indication of where we are.

“I must admit I have one eye on the Leatherhead game on the 18th, but to be fair every game is a hard one.

“Our defeat against Eastbourne for example, it wasn’t one I saw coming, that just shows you how every game is.”

The big freeze will mean if Rocks’ game at Chipstead on Saturday is on it will be their first in ten days, but Howell has taken the break in his stride.

“It’s a shame as we were trying to play a bit of catch-up as we are nervous of a backlog and trying to play lots of games in a short space of time.

“That’s life though, really, there are pros and cons, on the plus side it gives us a bit of time to get players back fit and to recover from knocks.”

On his and Killpatrick’s manager’s award, Howell praised his players and fellow staff as being instrumental in the prestigious honour from the league.

He said: “We are both pleased and it is nice recognition for the players and the football we are playing.

“The way we’re playing at the moment is great and it’s nice to take the plaudits for it.

“There is myself and Darin, as well as Jack Pearce and Michael Birmingham that help out behind the scenes, so it is a real team effort.

“The important thing for us is that we keep playing well, and if we are doing that we are happy to pick up plaudits like this along the way.”

OLLIE BERRY