Rocks Review: Duo hold key to shot at title glory

Strike duo Terry Dodd and Ashley Robinson have been challenged to keep their new lease of life going as the Rocks enter the final leg of their title bid.

The two forwards combined to see off Whyteleafe last weekend – but need to find the same high standards if the team are to clinch automatic promotion by winning their final two games.

Robinson scored two and made one while Dodd netted one and set up the other three in Saturday’s 4-1 win which, coupled with Dulwich Hamlet’s 2-0 home defeat to Whitehawk, put the Rocks back on top and in pole position for the title.

It was a return to the best form both players showed when they first broke into the team.

And Dodd’s 16th goal of the season moved him sixth in the Ryman one south goalscoring charts, which are still led by 24-goal Jason Prior despite him having scored his last one for the Rocks on December 17.

Bosses Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick were delighted with the pair and want to see more of the same from them when Walton & Hersham visit Nyewood Lane on Saturday.

Howell said: “Terry’s form and fitness is back and it’s fantastic for us. Our fitness coach Neil Cockroft must take a lot of credit for the work he’s done with Terry. We’re reaping the rewards.

“With Ashley, we told him that sometimes we were seeing his best work 40 yards from goal. But he has worked on that and some of the things we’re seeing him do are brilliant – things you expect to see at a much higher level.”

Killpartrick said: “Terry had a bit of a mid-season crisis but that’s behind him.”

Another key factor on Saturday was the return of captain Dan Beck after a quick recovery from a broken collarbone. He came off the bench and two minutes later scored the fourth goal to his own and team-mates’ and fans’ obvious delight.

Beck could start against Walton & Hersham although with Harvey Whyte also having made a successful return against Whyteleafe, the management have healthy competition for midfield places – as well as Steve Harper pushing Dodd and Robinson for a starting spot up front.

Things aren’t so rosy at the back, with Stuart Axten starting a three-match ban this week for his recent red card against Sittingbourne. But they have two or three options for a new central-defensive partner for Ben Andrews.

Howell is impressing upon the players to take the run-in one step at a time – with thoughts about the final-day visit to play-off hopefuls Maidstone off the agenda this week in the dressing room.

“All we need to worry about this week is Saturday’s game,” Howell said. “It was pleasing to go back to first place last weekend but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves.

“The moment we start to think about what we might need to do next week could be the moment we slip up this week. There are two games to go and we’ve done incredibly well to give ourselves a decent chance.”

The Rocks head the table only on goal difference but have a 16-goal advantage over second-placed Whitehawk on that score which means that if they do win their last two, no-one can overhaul them.

But the green army are all too aware the side went to Kent on the final day of last season in top spot, only to hand the title to Met Police by only drawing with Chatham.