ROCKS REVIEW: Biggest test? Leaders’ clash is just another game for the Rocks

Craig Stoner is facing a ban but is free to face Leatherhead
Craig Stoner is facing a ban but is free to face Leatherhead

The Rocks welcome the league leaders to town on Saturday insisting: It’s just another game.

Leatherhead will arrive at Nyewood Lane ready to test the best goalscoring record in Ryman one south against the division’s tightest defence.

But the Rocks say they won’t worry about the Surrey side’s impressive form, nor make special plans to deal with the league’s top scorer Greg Andrews.

Instead, they have enough faith in their own ability to play their normal game and get something out of the clash.

The two sides’ recent form suggests it will be a pre-Christmas cracker.

The Tanners, who have scored 53 league goals, have won four and drawn one of their last six, including last Saturday’s 7-3 victory over Eastbourne Town. The Rocks drew 1-1 at Whitstable on Tuesday, meaning they have lost only one of their last 12 in the league.

Joint boss Jamie Howell said everyone was relishing the prospect of the game.

“It should be an excellent game,” he said. “We’re glad to have got a game in on Tuesday before this one after a fortnight without action and we will be ready for them.

“We won’t be changing our style of play just because it’s Leatherhead. We’re better when playing our natural passing game and we’ll be looking to take the game to them.”

Howell’s management partner Darin Killpartrick agreed, playing down talk it was the biggest game of the season so far.

“They’re all big games to me, but some are bigger than others. We are not worried about who the opposition is – we will take our usual approach,” Killpartrick said.

He also brushed off worries over how his defence would deal with Leatherhead striker Andrews, who has scored 20 goals so far.

“He’s a good player but we have good players too. I think if Luke Nightingale had played in every game and not missed some through injury, he’d have about the same tally.”

Rocks goalkeeper Craig Stoner is free to face Leatherhead but is looking at a one-game ban following his sending-off for his last-man foul at Whitstable. He’s likely to miss either the trip to Worthing on December 27 or the New Year’s Day visit to Nyewood Lane of Burgess Hill.

Howell said: “We’ll look to get cover for Craig but don’t know yet who that will be.”

The Rocks don’t have the luxury of a full squad to pick from.

Defender Stuart Axten and winger Phil Turner are still about a week away from full fitness after ankle and groin injuries, while skipper Michael Birmingham is still suffering soreness in his calf.

Perry Ryan, an 18-year-old centre-half borrowed for a month from Pompey, filled in for Axten at Whistable and will do so again on Saturday.

Wideman Dan Royce has been suffering with a sickness bug but was on the bench in midweek and should be part of the squad to face the Tanners.

We’ll have a Rocks v Leatherhead report here on Saturday evening