Rocks Review: Going top of the league won’t change us

The Rocks celebrate the second clinching goal against Faversham  Picture by Tommy McMillan
The Rocks celebrate the second clinching goal against Faversham Picture by Tommy McMillan

Top spot won’t change us – that’s the message from the Rocks after they moved into pole position with their fifth straight clean-sheet win.

Two more home victories in the space of four days put them two points clear of Dulwich Hamlet and seven in front of third-placed Whitehawk.

Last season, there were times when the pressure of heading the table appeared to affect the Rocks’ form – but the management are confident their fast-maturing team won’t feel the pressure.

The squad has been boosted by another signing: ex-Worthing winger Callum Saunders has joined after a spell at Whitehawk as the Rocks increase their options in attack.

With no guarantees Steve Harper will stay beyond his second month’s loan from Met Police, Saunders, 24, looks a canny addition and made a lively debut off the bench in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Faversham. And with injuries still affecting the Rocks, one more addition is likely.

Jason Prior’s superb goalscoring run – he’s already hit 23 league goals this season and has now scored 53 goals in 2011 – means the threat remains of him leaving for a club higher up the football pyramid, perhaps in January.

But the Rocks want to keep the under-contract frontman for the season and hope he will go on making a name for himself at Nyewood Lane, where he is guaranteed regular football and regular goals. Prior’s double downed promotion rivals Maidstone in a 2-0 home victory on Saturday and he scored the opener against Faversham which sent Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick’s team to top spot.

It was no classic against Faversham but Howell said: “You can’t be fantastic every week. It was another win and another clean sheet and that’s good enough for me. We’re scoring, we’re winning.

“We’re fortunate to have a lot of players playing consistently well.

“Going top doesn’t change anything. It’s not like we’re miles ahead – Dulwich Hamlet are two points behind with a game in hand.

“Being top is a challenge we look forward to rising to. It will mean teams will be desperate to beat us but they’re desperate to beat all the sides near the top.”

Last season it wasn’t until the new year that the Rocks went top – and when they did, their home form stuttered with three successsive draws that proved costly in the final shake-up.

Joint manager Killpartrick said: “We’ll keep the same approach and the same attitude. It’s served us well so far.

“I’m partcularly pleased we’ve gone so long without conceding. The defensive side is something we’ve worked very hard on in training.”

The bosses are delighted to land Saunders – who they tried to sign last season – and see him playing an important part in a squad in which everyone will get games as the matches come thick and fast (see panel below right).

Striker Terry Dodd could feature this weekend after recovering from a hamstring injury while utility man Ben Andrews will be back soon provided a scan shows no knee cartilage damage.

But defender Tim Bond has picked up a calf injury as he gets over hamstring trouble and Lewis Ide is not quite over a knee problem.