Rocks turn corner – and see long road ahead

Ollie Pearce fires across goal against Oxford City / Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ollie Pearce fires across goal against Oxford City / Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks reflected on a four-point haul from two games but admitted: We’ve a long way to go yet.

A 2-1 win at St Albans and and 0-0 draw at home to Oxford City have lifted Nyewood Lane spirits, but the Rocks remain in the National League South’s bottom three.

That’s three games in a row now in which performances have been markedly better but manager Jack Pearce and coach Darin Killpartrick are warning their players they must keep up these standards in order to secure a run of results that will take them away from the relegation zone.

The Rocks break from league action this Saturday when they visit fellow NLS side Hemel Hempstead in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy. Next up in the league is Saturday week’s home tussle with another side near the bottom, Concord.

Pearce said: “In a perfect world we’d have got the draw at St Albans and the win in fron of our own fans, but four points is a good return for the week. They were tight games, like almost all games in this league are, but we had a bit of luck.

“We can compete in this league but we know we need a couple of new, quality players and are still working to get them in.

In a perfect world we’d have got the draw at St Albans and the win in fron of our own fans, but four points is a good return for the week. They were tight games, like almost all games in this league are, but we had a bit of luck.

Jack Pearce

“All I can ask the players is that they give their best and I think at the moment they’re doing that.”

Injuries continue to plague the camp. Doug Tuck missed the Oxford draw with illness but may be back for the Hemel trip, but fellow midfielder Dan Beck has picked up an Achilles injury that’s set to keep him out for at least a week.

Corey Heath (ankle) and James Crane (shoulder) remain sidelined and forward Connor Tighe’s loan from Whitehawk has ended.

But there’s brighter news of winger Ben Johnson – he has started putting his match fitness to the test after a long spell out with a knee injury with Wessex League side Horndean, managed by Michael Birmingham.

Coach Killpartrick said: “Performance-wise we’re going in the right direction but there’s a lot of work to do. A win at St Albans lifted everyone.

“We’re defending better as a team; now our one-v-one individual battles need addressing throughout the team. In this league defences are tighter and you will not get many clear chances, so finding those couple more quality players is vital.”

Get the first report from the Trophy trip to Hemel Hempstead on this website on Saturday evening