Training ground work ethic is paying off for Haverhill Rovers striker
Haverhill Rovers assistant manager Josh Shepherd has praised not just the goals, but the improved performances of teenage striker Rory Jebb.
The 19-year-old youth product has scored five times in his last four starts for Rovers, most recently netting the winner in their 2-1 league victory over Fakenham Town on Saturday.
In all he has scored seven times in 13 appearances, six of them starts, but his recent improvement is, said Shepherd, down to the player’s own attitude and application.
“At the start of the season we put him in and he wasn’t exactly doing what we asked of him, but he has worked hard in training and he’s listened to what we say and he’s improved week on week,” said Shepherd, who continues to lead the team while manager Ben Cowling is away.
“He has held the ball up well and he’s a natural forward so he is in the right place a lot of the time.
“You need a focal point within the team and he’s been exceptional.
“He’s getting more confident and the goals are coming and we are reaping the rewards.”
Jebb (away) is unavailable for Rovers next challenge, a visit to Wivenhoe Town on Saturday (3pm) in the Thurlow Nunn Premier League, but Shepherd knows Rovers have a player ready-made to take up the central striking role.
Top scorer Danny Hill (ten goals in 15 games) has been employed on the left wing, from where his ability to drift inside into goalscoring positions has proved highly effective.
It is likely he will move into the centre forward position on Saturday, a job to which he is well accustomed.
Shepherd said: “The obvious choice will be to go with Danny down the middle. He’s experienced in that role and he’s quite capable of holding the ball up.
“We don’t have to change our style. We obviously lose the aerial strength without Rory but we know how Danny plays and the service he needs so I’m confident he can do it.”
With Mitch Burr and Luke Latham both still injured, Rovers may give a first start to new signing, wide midfielder Mason Newman, who came on for the last ten minutes against Fakenham after joining a few days earlier from Ely City.
Whatever starting XI Rovers put out, Shepherd believes they will have the ability to beat The Dragons, who sit one point above them having played 14 games, winning five, drawing seven and losing just two.
The meeting in Essex also brings together the only two sides to have defeated second-placed Stanway Rovers in the league so far this season.
Shepherd said: “I keep saying this, but we are good enough to beat anyone and it’s just getting the belief in the team and I think they are starting to get that.”
After a 4-0 FA Vase defeat at Thurlow Premier side Felixstowe & Walton United and a 1-0 league reverse at home to unbeaten Halstead Town, Haverhill Borough will look to get back on track at home to Cornard United in the Thurlow Division One on Saturday.
The game is part of one of the league’s Groundhopper Days so kicks off at midday, and player-manager Martin Westcott expects a tough test.
“Halstead are going to be right up there. One nil, while it’s not a good result we played quite well. We need to match that performance again on Saturday.
“We need to battle because Cornard are a good side. They went to (unbeaten and second-placed) Stowmarket Town and got a draw so they will be hard to beat.”
Midfielder Aaron Forshaw (hamstring) aside, Borough expect to have a full squad to select from.