Rocks Review: No-one’s getting carried away despite solid start

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The Rocks made a bright start to their programme of pre-season friendlies – only to be told by the bosses: There’s much harder work ahead.

They made League Two side AFC Wimbledon work hard for their 2-0 victory in Saturday’s opening friendly at Nyewood Lane, but have been warned not to get carried away by one good display.

Pre-season moves up a few gears now with four games in nine days starting this evening away to their old Conference South neighbours Havant & Waterlooville.

And joint boss Darin Killpartrick said the performance against the Dons was just one small step in the build-up to the league and cup campaign.

“We did well – we kept the ball well,” said Killpartrick. “But we will need to be calmer on the ball and get numbers in the box.

“Wimbledon made a fair few chances, which was always likely to happen. It was our first game and they’re a professional side who had been training three weeks.

“But our keeper made some exceptional saves and overall we were pleased with the workout.

“We have to forget that now, though, however well we did. We’ve got tough friendlies coming up and will need to gradually step up our performances right through until August 18 and the first league game away to Concord. Hopefully we’ll be ready when that comes.”

The keeper in question was Tom Boyle, standing in for the unwell Craig Stoner. He excelled, while a crop of youngsters the club hope to integrate with the first-team squad also showed up well.

Teenage striker Dan Simmonds started while fellow youngsters Doug Tuck, John Symons and Ben Chick all came on.

Killpartrick said: “We’re fortunate we have kept almost all of last season’s squad. It helps that we have a team who know how we want to play and know each other.

“Ideally we want to bring in a couple more experienced players – one or two more additions will be important – but we have these young players who we feel are all lads we can work with and develop and give them experience in and around the first team.”

The Rocks head to Havant tonight with striker Terry Dodd set to make his first appearance of the season, although fellow forward Steve Harper is not yet available.

Lack of cover in central defence remains a worry with still no news of when long-term groin injury victim Tim Bond will be back.

The Rocks host Pagham on Sunday (3pm).