ROCKS REVIEW: Pair are out to ruin Christmas for hometown team Worthing
They were brought up in Worthing and still live there '“ but Darin Killpartrick and Jamie Howell are out to ruin their hometown football club's Christmas by guiding the Rocks to victory in the big derby.
The duo are braced to get plenty of stick from the home fans as they take their high-flying team to Woodside Road on Monday for the sides’ first league meeting in seven years.
And they head into the game aware their fine league record this season – particularly away from home, where they have lost only once – will count for little in an intense derby game.
It’s one of the biggest matches of the season and one neither side will want to lose.
And it’s not just the away dugout that will contain figures familiar to the home crowd. The Rocks team is likely to feature defender Matt Whitehead, winger Ben Johnson and midfielder James Fraser, who have all played for Worthing.
But one former A2B Stadium favourite, centre-half Stuart Axten, is set to miss out as he is still not over an ankle injury suffered a month ago.
Killpartrick said: “Jamie and I are Worthing boys but we are green through and through and, of course, we want to win.
“Chris White, the Worthing manager, is a good friend of mine and he’ll be as keen to beat me as I am to beat him.
“He’s a good manager and everywhere he goes he puts his heart and soul into it.
“It should be a good contest with plenty of passion.”
Howell, who had a brief spell at Worthing before he returned for his present spell at Nyewood Lane, said: “It should be a great occasion for both teams and sets of fans.
“I think the players will respond to it.
“At Whitstable in our last game, we were rusty early on and we must make sure we’re not at Worthing.”
Apart from Axten being out, Rocks skipper Michael Birmingham is rated 50/50 as he struggles after a calf injury. But winger Phil Turner should be in the squad following a hamstring problem.
Keeper Craig Stoner’s one-game ban for his red card at Whitstable doesn’t take effect until January 1.
Meanwhile, White is looking forward to his first derby clash with the Rocks as Worthing boss.
He said: “They’re going well at the top and we’re doing all right at the moment as well.
“We know they’re a good side. Darin Killpartrick is one of my best friends in football and I know he likes his teams to play football, which is what we try to do as well.
“If the weather is fine and the pitch is decent, which it should be as we haven’t had any games on it recently, it should be a very good game for the fans.”
We will have a match report here on Monday.
WORTHING v ROCKS STAT ATTACK
The Rocks have had much the better of the sides’ recent meetings.
Rebels are winless against Bognor in 11 – since a 3-1 win at Nyewood Lane in December, 1999, and Bognor enjoyed 4-0 and 2-0 wins at Woodside Road over Rebels in the league cup and county cup last season.
The teams have not met in the league since April 2003, when they drew 1-1.
This season, Worthing have won their last five league matches at Woodside Road.
The Rocks have lost just one of their last nine in the league and have suffered only one defeat in eight away Ryman matches.