ROCKS coach Darin Killpartrick says back-to-back wins over Billericay and Lewes suggest the team learned lessons from their home hammering by Tonbirdge.
But he warned they must keep up the standards shown in the two holiday weekend matches if they’re to avoid the campaign turning into an inconsistent one.
It has been a strange start to the season for Jamie Howell’s men – they began by taking seven points from nine, then lost twice in four days – 5-0 at home to Tonbridge, when they had James Crane and Craig Robson sent off, and 1-0 away to Met Police.
But a 3-1 home success over Billericay and a 2-0 win at Lewes, their first at the Dripping Pan since 2008, have got them back on track.
Jason Prior scored another three goals in the two victories, putting him level with Tonbridge’s Luke Blewden on seven goals at the top of the Ryman premier scoring charts.
“I think the Tonbridge game showed what a sharp learning curve this league can be,” said Killpartrick. “It also showed you can’t afford to lose your discipline,” said Killpartrick.
“It weas important that we bounced back after that and after losing two on the trot, and we did just that.
“I felt we played very well against Billericay and Lewes but we mustn’t rest on our laurels. You can’t at this level of football because you will soon get punished if you do.”
Killpartrick paid tribute to the ‘new’ midfield partnership of Dan Beck and Doug Tuck, who could be pairing up in the engine room regularly following the departure by mutual consent of Jake Thomson.
The Rocks have thanked Thomson for his service but now hope Beck and Tuck could flourish together.
“They’re like the jump leads in your car,” said Killpartrick. “They get us moving and firing. They complement each other really well.”
The Rocks host Enfield on Saturday and Met Police next weekend but will be without Crane and Robson for both tests.
Harvey Whyte is the obvious replacement at right-back for Crane, while Pompey youngster Chad Field is set to partner Sami El-Abd in Robson’s absence.
Bognor have also bid farewell for a second time to Terry Dodd. The striker has joined Southern Combination premier side Horsham after slipping down the strikers’ pecking order at Nyewood Lane.
Rocks manager Jamie Howell said he’d be keeping an eye on Dodd’s progress and a further return to the Lane for the popular forward was not out of the question.
Howell was delighted with six points from six over the holiday weekend – after fearing the worst when Billericay took an early lead in Saturday’s encounter.
He said: “When you lose one home game 5-0 then go one down in three minutes in the next, you think: What’s going on here? But we were resilient and we kept plugging away and ended up fully deserving the win, which was important for our confidence.
“Then at Lewes, where they have had a difficult start to the season, we played well enough to warrant the win. Suddenly you have taken six points in three days and things look a lot brighter.
“We now have three home games in a row to continue to build a run but they’ll be tough. Enfield probably won’t stay near the bottom of the league for too long, and we know from only last week that Met Police are strong.”
Following the next week’s two home matches, Merstham visit Nyewood Lane on Saturday, September 12, in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!