Three bids for glory taking shape for Rocks

Chike Kandi celebrates his second in the rout of Canvey Island / Picture by Tim Hale

Chike Kandi celebrates his second in the rout of Canvey Island / Picture by Tim Hale

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JAMIE HOWELL urged his players to keep repeating their good habits as the Rocks reflected on one of their best halves of football in recent times.

They are still going for glory on three fronts and boosted their promotion hopes on Saturday with a stunning 5-0 win over high-flying rivals Canvey Island.

They were 4-0 up inside 31 minutes and coach Darin Killpartrick reckoned it was the best half of football they had played in the past five years.

The arrival of young Brighton striker Chike Kandi has given new impetus to a side who were already in good form.

Kandi scored twice and fitted seamlessly into the frontline alongside Jason Prior, who fired a hat-trick.

The win and Tuesday night’s less-impressive 2-0 Sussex Senior Cup success against Southern Combination side Langney mean the Rocks have won four from four since the disappointment of being knocked out of the FA Cup at the last qualifying stage.

In fairness it’s not the first time we’ve done that sort of thing, but it’s pleasing when it comes off and when we can entertain the fans like that.

Jamie Howell

In those four games they have scored 13 goals and not conceded one.

Now they are facing a massively-busy run-up to Christmas with more FA Trophy and county cup action to come and a host of rearranged league games.

Howell and Killpartrick were brimming with pride after Canvey – who’d gone into the game in third place – were blown away before half-time.

“We were excellent – we were on it from the word go,” said Howell.

“We took the game to them and everything we tried came off. In fairness it’s not the first time we’ve done that sort of thing, but it’s pleasing when it comes off and when we can entertain the fans like that.

“We have goals in us but to get that sort of chances-to-goals conversion rate is unusual.

“Jason has been on fire in recent games and Chike came in and was superb. He gives us extra quality and another option up front. He and Jason have hit it off straight away.”

Howell and Killpartrick both praised the performance of Dan Beck, who many felt was the conductor of the Rocks’ orchestra in the Canvey win. Howell said: “When he said he wanted to come back to the club in summer, we were delighted.

“But I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how influential he would be.”

Killpartrick said of the 5-0 victory: “Our first-half display was as good as I’ve seen from us in five years. It was outrageous, outstanding.”

The midweek county cup game brought a chance to rest a few senior players, and Howell said he was pleased with the showings of young pair Jamie Horncastle and Lloyd Rowlatt.

They’re players who could have key roles to play in the coming weeks with games coming two a week.

The Rocks head to Southern League division one south and west side Taunton in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday and, provided no replay is needed, they go to Brentwood for a league game on Tuesday.

Notwithstanding rearr-angements, the club also face a run of five successive away games between November 24 and December 7.

Howell said: “It’ll be a testing period but the good thing is it’s come about because we’ve made progress in cup competitions. And at least we are heading into the period in good form.”

Winger Alex Parsons has a tight hamstring and is set to miss the Taunton trip, while Stuart Green lasted only 40 minutes on Tuesday as he continues to be plagued by a nerve problem that’s affecting his back and groin.

But Sami El-Abd and Harvey Whyte are both now over suspensions.

If the Taunton game ends level, the Nyewood Lane replay will be next Wednesday.

Winners of Trophy ties in this round earn £3,250. But Howell watched Taunton win a replay at Dorking in the last round and said: “They’ll give us a hard game.”

STEVE BONE

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