Rocks: Don’t expect an easy hatful against wounded Cray

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The Rocks aim to end their goal drought on Saturday against a team who let in nine last week - but are being told: We can’t just turn up and score a hatful.

The backroom staff at Nyewood Lane are working hard to solve a goal shortage which has seem the team slip a little way behind the clubs chasing play-off spots.

They remain confident the goals will flow again, but have warned that Saturday’s visitors to Nyewood Lane, Cray Wanderers, will be out to mend their wounded pride after a 9-3 defeat at Kingstonian.

The Rocks have slipped to back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Kingstonian and Hendon and have scored only once in their past three league games.

Their cause at Hendon on Saturday wasn’t helped by striker Ashley-Paul Robinson and winger Jordan Clarke arriving too late to be named in the starting line-up. Both would have started and their hold-up in traffic meant a last-minute reshuffle by manager Jamie Howell.

He said: “That sort of thing is avoidable and shouldn’t happen at this level of football. It disrupted our plans and is being dealt with.”

Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s main task in training this week has been to restore the players’ confidence in their ability to score goals - and make sure they put in the hard work needed to create chances and put some of them away.

Howell said: “There’s a variety of reasons we’re not scoring. Confidence is part of it and at times we’re not creating enough.

“And to be blunt, it’s nothing a 25-goals-a-season striker wouldn’t solve. But every team’s looking for one of those.”

Killpartrick said of the drought: “We’re a little worried by it - it needs to be addressed and we are working to address it. It’s the million-dollar question: Why aren’t we scoring more?

“We have introduced video analysis, which is helping pick things out that we can show the players.

“We need to be calmer in front of goal. But people need to realise we are up against teams and defences who are harder to unlock and have more knowhow than those we were facing in division one south. We were never going to score 100 goals again.”

Howell and Killpartrick warned Cray - whose squad has been depleted by departures, injuries, suspensions - would be out to make up for the hurt of their Kingstonian hammering.

Killpartrick said: “They’ll change their team - no doubt about it - and football’s not so straightforward that you can say because they’ve had a heavy defeat one week they’ll get another this week.”

Ben Andrews is unlikely to be fit to return to the centre of defence this week - he trained on Tuesday night but is still recovering from a thigh injury.

Daryl Wollers has done well as Stuart Axten’s emergency centre-half partner with Louis John still a couple of weeks away from fitness.

Howell said: “Daryl’s been brilliant in the centre. He played there a bit with Littlehampton and has moved in there seamlessly, which has got us out of a hole.”

Nick Jordan is set to continue in goal with Craig Stoner still troubled by back and knee problems. Stoner’s previous deputy, Tom Boyle, has joined striker Terry Dodd on loan at East Preston. Both played in their 5-1 home win against East Grinstead.

The Hendon defeat led to a handful of Rocks fans voicing their frustration on the unofficial messageboard over some team selections and the decision to loan out Dodd.

Howell said he could understand their frustrations but said his decisions about players were always taken with the best interests of the club at heart and based on the balance between getting results now while also setting up the squad and club for a healthy longer-term outlook.

Dodd scored four for EP in their 5-1 win over East Grinstead although as a contracted Rocks player, his loan is a month long and can’t be curtailed. Howell said he was confident he would get back a fitter, sharper Dodd.

Get the first report from Rocks v Cray on this website