Rocks Review: Constant changes can’t stop promotion charge

The Rocks’ bosses have shown they’re not afraid to change a winning team as they bid to steer the club to promotion.

It’s been rare for them to send out the same starting XI two matches in a row this season as departures, retirements, injuries and suspensions have all hit hopes of fielding a settled side.

Despite that they are five points clear at the top of the league – and the forced shuffling of resources has shown joint managers Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick they can keep everyone on their toes by juggling the players they do still have at their disposal.

Last weekend striker Ashley Robinson and new defender Osa Obamwonyi were late arriving at Nyewood Lane for their clash with Merstham and the management had no hesitation in drafting other players into the starting line-up and leaving the pair on the bench.

As it turned out, both came on for the second half and played their part as the Rocks secured a 2-0 win – but the fact new additions have boosted the options in the squad means no-one’s guaranteed a place.

Howell was delighted by the latest win, another example of the Rocks winning without being at their best.

“We didn’t play fantastically well against Merstham and in fact Craig Stoner kept us in it in the first half. Then we got into the lead with a great strike from James Crane just before the break and never looked back,” Howell said.

“We had to change it at half-time because Craney couldn’t carry on but we’d wanted to switch it round anyway. Osa and Ashley came on and both made a difference.

“I guess it showed that we do have good options open to us at the moment. Different games need different approaches so we’re not afraid to change things about.”

The win was their third consecutive victory and their latest unbeaten league run now stands at five games.

It’s another home game this Saturday as Walton Casuals visit Nyewood Lane, out to avenge the 5-0 cup and league defeats the Rocks inflicted on them in October on their own ground.

Skipper Dan Beck is available again after a one-game ban, and there are no new injury worries on top of long-term absentees Tim Bond, Ben Andrews and Lewis Ide.

But Stoner is away this weekend so Howell is hoping to recruit Lloyd Anderson, who has been with Bromley recently and has served the Rocks before.

Obamwonyi, who has signed on loan for a month from Conference South side Sutton, is likely to start. Howell said: “He’s a big, strong, powerful boy and Sutton think highly of him. They have been great in letting us have him for a month.”

Saturday’s other debutant was young Brighton midfielder George Hayward, who also had a solid first Rocks appearance.

Howell said there’d be no complacency in the camp against Walton, despite the comfortable victories at Waterside Drive.