THE ROCKS have been challenged to find their killer instinct and start getting the results that much of their football deserves.
Manager Jamie Howell says they are dominating periods of games without looking like killing off the opposition – and that has to change of they’re to start climbing the table.
The FA Cup clashes with Lewes were a case in point - the Rocks were the better side for much of the 0-0 draw at Nyewood Lane and the DDripping Pan replay, which the Rooks won 1-0 with a late goal to end Bognor’s Cup dreams for another year.
Howell is hoping the recruitment of two more strikers – Gosport dual-registration signing Stuart Green and free agent Dan Thompson, back for his third spell at Nyewood Lane – will help in time.
But planning at the other end of the pitch has been hit by news that full-back and skipper Paul Hinshelwood could be out for the season with a cruciate damage.
Hinshelwood and the club had hoped he was suffering only from ligament damage but a surgical investigation of the knee has revealed significant damage. He has to go back to the doctor in six weeks, when the extent of the injury and the necessary treatment will be known.
Howell said: “It’s a real blow – for him and for the squad. If it is what we fear, you are looking at him missing the rest of the season.”
At least the Rocks had their first home clean sheet to cheer in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Lewes in the FA Cup first qualifying round, which led to a replay at the Dripping Pan and that heartbreaking narrow defeat.
Saturday’s stalemate left Howell with mixed feelings and he admitted either side would have felt hard done by had they lost.
“I was watching the game feeling quite in control,” he said. “We dominated to a degree, but what we’re doing is shading games without doing enough to win them. We’re not turning possession into goals, or into enough clear chances.
“I’ve brought in Stuart Green and Dan Thompson and that gives us two from four up front, where as we were two from two.
“I’m pleased with Ollie Pearce and Alex Parsons up there but they can’t do it on their own.
“Stuart is dual-registered but we very much want to be his priority club. He has made a massive impression on the team already and we have high hopes.
“Dan was free after leaving Farnborough and I asked if he fancied coming back. He’s less than 100 per cent fit at the moment but that will come.”
Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick – who has been working hard with the players on defending at training – were at least pleased the side didn’t concede and are preaching to the squad that good results start with stout defending.
“We looked solid at the back,” Howell added. “Dabba’s been doing a lot of work in that area and it’s starting to show. Josh Warren has helped by coming in. He’s a defence-minded player and is a good influence.”
The Rocks return to Ryman premier action on Saturday, hoping to start climbing away from the pack at the bottom.
They are in back in Essex on Saturday for a visit to Grays – where last April they won 4-3 after trailing 3-0. Then on Tuesday, it’s another visit to their old rivals Met Police, another venue where they took three points last spring.
Killpartrick said: “It’s a testing schedule at the moment for our small squad, especially when you’re playing Saturday and Tuesday away games back to back.”