The under-strength Rocks battled well but slipped to their second home defeat of the season against Wealdstone this afternoon - and saw their selection problems worsen as man of the match Kane Wills was red-carded for pushing an opponent.
The Rocks were without several senior players because of injury but gave a second club debut to young loanee Harvey Whyte, back from Havant for a month, while Dan Kempson, Doug Tuck and Lewis Stockford all started. Tom Boyle was again deputising for the absent Craig Stoner in goal.
Happily forwards Ashley Robinson and Steve Harper looked to be faring well being put through their paces pre-match as they recover from knee and hamstring injuries - with some talk that Robinson could return next week.
The Rocks began on the front foot and twice in the first five minutes Ben Andrews went close with headers. One from a Kane Wills free-kick and another after a corner, also put in by Wills, forced good blocks by a defender and keeper Rikki Banks respectively.
The hosts were lining up with James Crane in for Daryl Wollers at left-back, Whyte and Tuck up in support of Mu Maan in attack and Kempson and Stockford backing up Wills in midfield.
Rocks defender Louis John and Wealdstone’s Chris O’Leary needed treatment after a clash of heads in the home area. O’Leary needed a change of shirt.
It was a fairly even opening quarter of an hour in which both sides had spells of possession but didn’t put together a move that tested the opposition keeper.
Whyte went close on 18 minutes with a curling right-footed effort from 25 yards. Then Peter Dean latched on to a pass at the other and fired only narrowly over.
The Rocks were having marginally the better of the play and getting the ball into some dangerous areas, but their final pass was letting them down.
Boyle lost a Wealdstone corner but the ref blew for a free kick in his favour on the half-hour mark as the visitors enjoyed a spell of pressure.
Maan found himself clear on goal a couple of minutes but chose to shoot from outside the box instead of taking it on. He hit it cleanly enough but Banks gathered with ease.
Stockford was lectured by the referee for bringing down his man down the Wealdstone left.
A patient build-up on 36 minutes saw the ball passed neatly across the edge of the box and ended with Jon Marzetti crossing for Maan, but his header was high and wide.
Alex Dyer skied a long-range shot a couple of minutes later, curling it on to the clubhouse roof.
There was a further hold up shortly before half-time as O’Leary had to change shirts for a second time with more blood dripping from his head wound. After putting on a No16 shirt, a new No8 shirt - his correct number - was found for him.
The Rocks almost took a 45th-minute lead when Whyte, Tuck and Mann combined. Mann’s cross from the right was headed across goal by Whyte and it was perfect for Tuck, but his goal-bound volley was heroically kept out by the keeper.
Wealdstone were close to the lead in first-half injury time but Peter Dean’s close-range volley was blocked by a defender’s leg.
Wealdstone were claiming handball a minute into the second half as Ben Andrews kept out a goalbound shot, but the referee - to the visitors’ dismay - gave a corner, indicating the defender headed it clear.
They were close to the opening goal again on 49 minutes when Dean headed a corner against the outside of the angle of post and bar.
You felt a Wealdstone goal was coming and it did a minute later as a quick break led to Richard Jolly taking a pass in his stride in the area, taking one touch and firing low past the exposed Boyle. On balance, Wealdstone deserved the lead for the way they’d started the second half.
That left the majority of the 448 crowd a little quiet and wondering how the Rocks could get back into it.
Maan had been flagged offside before being brought down in the area on 54 minutes.
Jamie Howell decided it was time to freshen up his attack and brought on teenage striker Dan Simmonds in place of Stockford.
The closest the Rocks came to an equaliser was a speculative effort from Maan which beat the keeper but went just over the bar.
Crane got in down the right and crossed for Maan at the near post but a combination of keeper and defender blocked his touch.
Dean sent a flying header only inches wide of the post with Boyle beaten.
Maan controlled a long ball into the box at the second half’s midway point and laid it off for Simmonds but he was leaning back and his fiercely-hit shot was way too high.
Another young sub, winger Ben Chick, replaced Tuck with 18 minutes left which brought about a reshuffle that involved Whyte switching to the left and Crane and Kempson swapping places in defence and midfield.
Boyle saved at the second attempt from a crisply-hit Dean shot on 76 minutes.
The Rocks were still having plenty of possession but were running out of things to do with it.
Marzetti’s cross into the near post looked perfect for the inrushing Whyte eight minutes from time but he couldn’t stretch to get there ahead of keeper Banks.
Whyte tested Banks on 83 minutes after twisting and turning on the corner of the box and shooting well.
Wealdstone sub Nathan Webb should have made it 2-0 in the 87th minute when he had only Boyle to beat but he dallied and a defender blocked his shot. Then Webb brought a flying save from Boyle with a follow-up shot from 20 yards.
The game boiled over in the dying minutes when man of the match Wills was sent off for pushing Webb, who was booked for his part in the handbags. A sending-off was the last thing the Rocks needed with so many key man out injured. He looked like he felt the decision was harsh as he made his way to the dressing room.
Rocks: Boyle, Marzetti, Kempson, Crane, John, Andrews, Whyte, Wills, Maan, Tuck, Stockford. Subs: Walshe, Chick, Simmonds.
Wealdstone: Banks, McCubbin, Chappell, Parker, Masse, Dyer, Brooks, O’Leary, Dean, Jolly, Pett. Subs: Webb, Brewer, Cronin, Knight, Baidoo.
Ref: M Webb