Highs and lows of a week at Nyewood Lane

The Rocks go for goal against Lowestoft / Picture by Chris Hatton

The Rocks go for goal against Lowestoft / Picture by Chris Hatton

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JAMIE HOWELL reflected on a week of two halves – and admitted he was disappointed by claims the Rocks didn’t put in enough effort in the defeat at Farnborough.

The Rocks manager was delighted with the 2-1 FA Cup win over Lowestoft which put the club just two games away from a potential tie against a Football League club in the first round proper.

He was disappointed they couldn’t extend their eight-game unbeaten run in Hampshire on Monday night, when they lost 2-1 to one of the Ryman premier’s early strugglers.

But he rejected talk from one or two supporters that they took it easy.

“That’s a slur,” he said.

“We weren’t at our best and certainly didn’t play brilliantly, but we created enough chances to win the game and it’s certainly not the case that we didn’t put in the effort. We did a lot of things we’d done at Grays nine days earlier when we won 2-0.”

We weren’t at our best and certainly didn’t play brilliantly, but we created enough chances to win the game and it’s certainly not the case that we didn’t put in the effort.

Howell felt Saturday’s Cup win over a team from National League North – one division above Bognor – had taken its toll on some of the players.

But while the management feel that may have been a factor at Farnborough, they are anxious to stress it is not an excuse.

“We’ve had an excellent September,” Howell said. “We went on a long unbeaten run and I’m happy with the progress made in the league and in the FA Cup.

“But no team in this league is going to win every week or stay unbeaten for months. Look at Leiston – they’re the leaders and got hammered at East Thurrock on Tuesday night.”

Howell is happy to be in the third qualifying round of the Cup, although the Rocks are bemoaning the fact they so often get drawn with higher-placed opposition.

Oxford City, who sit second in the National League South, will visit Nyewood Lane in the next round on Saturday, October 10.

Howell said: “I thought we deserved to beat Lowestoft. We kept it tight and got stronger as the game went on, then Dan Beck and Ollie Pearce took their chances very well.

“We all feared a replay when Lowestoft equalised but, not for the first time this season, we found a bit more.

“The draw is another tough one. I said before the Lowestoft game we’d need to be at our best and hope they had a bit of an off-day, and the same’s probably true of the Oxford tie.”

The Rocks aim to put the Farnborough defeat behind them when they host fourth-placed Harrow in the league on Saturday.

“Harrow are very attack-minded so it could be like a boxing match – I don’t think it will be a dull 0-0 draw,” Howell added.

Forward Stuart Green (back) and midfielder Gary Charman (ankle) are not fully fit but another midfield man, Doug Tuck, is set for a role after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Craig Robson has been handed an extra two-match after the club lost an appeal against his punishment for post-red-card dissent against Tonbridge in August. But he is free to play this weekend.

* Bognor’s Ryman premier fixture at Brentwood – postponed from October 10 as a result of both clubs’ success in the FA Cup – has been rearranged for Tuesday, November 17.

STEVE BONE

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