EAST Thurrock United manager John Coventry says his side’s new found defensive stability has had him “pinching himself”.

Rocks have kept three clean sheets in their opening three games and, after last year's goals against column read -84, Coventry has said a mixture of experience and youth has given his team much-needed steel at the back.

He added former skipper and Rocks favourite Ben Wood has signed a deal to play on until the end of the season.

The Echo revealed last week that 36-year-old Wood was looking for a new deal after Coventry called on him following the departure of Stevie Sheehan.

“Our defending has been very good indeed,” said Coventry. “All three clean sheets have been hard fought, but we are not getting carried away.

“Ben has confidence and that has filtered through to the younger guys at the back. Tom Stephen and Connor Witherspoon look very strong and we will soon have Ryan Sammons back (he has been on his honeymoon) so we have options.”

Rocks defensive credentials will come under stern examination at Margate this evening, their first away trip of the season.

The Kent side are strongly fancied to be challenging for the title this year, mainly due to the financial backing from former Wolves director Bob Laslett.

They have added a host of impressive stars to their squad and have started this season in formidable fashion.

Three wins in a row, and only one goal against, leaves them joint top at the summit of the table with Maidstone United.

And Coventry has called on his side to continue doing what they have been doing.

“We still have 43 games to go in this league and we know how hard a test Margate will be.

“It might be good to get games like this out the way but we are confident heading into every match.”