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Rocks Review: They’re out to hassle the Hawks in the FA Trophy

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The Rocks are out to extend Havant & Waterlooville’s miserable first third of the season in the FA Trophy on Saturday.

With a squad which is nearing full-strength again after an horrific run of injuries, the Rocks believe they have a chance of causing an upset against their Conference South neighbours.

They certainly owe the Hawks one - on their last competitive visit to Nyewood Lane on Boxing Day 2008, Havant won 5-1.

But the Rocks will be keen for a repeat of the West Leigh Park club’s last visit in the Trophy, which ended in a 2-1 win for the Rocks in November 2007.

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick believe the Hawks are in a false position in the league - they are one off the bottom of Conference South with only two league wins from 15.

They’ve had two changes of manager since the end of last season, with ex-Pompey striker and Bournemouth manager lee Bradbury now in charge. There’s been other off-field turmoil, too.

Howell said: “It should be a very good game. Havant have had a few changes. Some will say it’s a good time to play them but I actually think this is a very unpredictable game. I don’t know how it will pan out.

“They’ve a new manager and some very good players – but I’m more concerned with our team than theirs and we have some very good players too.

“If we can get the ball down and play our normal game, we have a chance.”

Killpartrick added: “Havant are in a false position, I’m sure of that. They’re a physically-strong team and have two or three matchwinners and game-changers.

“It will be an entertaining game in front of a big crowd.”

The two clubs have a strong working relationship - as has been seen recently by the Hawks’ willingness to extend winger Harvey Whyte’s loan spell at Nyewood Lane.

He can’t play Saturday against his own club but is now set to stay with the Rocks until the turn of the year. Bradbury can recall him at any time, though.

The Rocks are also set to be without forward Steve Harper this weekend because of a family commitment but their attacking options are boosted by the return to the squad of striker Terry Dodd, who has been in full training this week after two months out with a broken toe.

Howell stressed it would take time for both Dodd and strike partner Ashley-Paul Robinson, who is playing again after recovering from knee surgery, to work their way up to 100 per cent fitness.

They are considering pitching returning midfielder Dan Beck in for his first start since ending his self-imposed break from the game.

The club have bid farewell to Mu Maan, who has moved to Ryman one south side Dulwich Hamlet. Howell said Maan had done well for the Rocks - scoring three goals in 16 appearances - but had found it hard travelling to Bognor from his home in Chelsea.

Another piece of good news is that centre-half Stuart Axten has resumed light training after his knee ligament injury.

His return will be timely as the team are still without his first-choice central-defensive partner and skipper Ben Andrews, who is awaiting conclusive scan results on a knee injury.

It looks like medial ligament damage which would keep him out until about Christmas and wouldn’t need surgery, but Andrews is due to see a specialist again this week.

Young midfielder Dan Kempson is still a week or two away with a knee problem, while there is still no positive news of centre-half Tim Bond, who seems no nearer knowing the cause of a groin problem that’s kept him out for the best part of a year.

The Rocks are still sixth in the Ryman premier after recording their second home league win of the season on Saturday with 1-0 success over Thurrock courtesy of a James Crane goal.

They’re back in Ryman action next Tuesday away to FA Cup heroes Hastings.

 

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