NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Emotional success as Godmanchester Rovers continue their FA Vase adventure
- Credit: Archant
One of Ollie Drake’s finest footballing moments came at the end of one of the toughest weeks of his life.
The Godmanchester Rovers boss steered his side into the last 32 of the FA Vase yesterday - only a few days after the loss of his beloved grandfather.
A poignant 2-0 victory against tough Lincolnshire side Holbeach – secured by second-half goals from Joe Furness and Austen Diaper - was immediately dedicated to John Drake, who died at the age of 83.
“It’s been an unbelievably tough and emotional week after losing my grandad,” said Drake. “He passed in my arms on Tuesday and this win is for him from all of us.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the boys and Errol (assistant manager, McCammon) for getting themselves prepared for the game so well when I wasn’t about last week.
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“It’s a result that means a lot to us all and it is great to make progress in the Vase. If you’re still involved in this competition at Christmas, you can start to dream about having a really good run in it.”
A minute’s silence in memory of Drake snr, the founder of the club’s sponsors J & J Drake, was impeccably observed ahead of kick-off.
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The only surprise was that it took Rovers, who are second in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division, so long to turn their dominance into goals against visitors sitting fifth in the United Counties League Premier Division.
Jack Chandler was twice denied by impressive stops from Holbeach goalkeeper Ricky Drury in an opening half in which the visiting number one and the woodwork also denied skipper Micky Hyem.
Another glorious chance was fired straight at Drury by substitute Diaper in the second half, but the breakthrough soon arrived as Furness brilliantly despatched a free-kick into the top corner from inside the ‘D’.
A fine defensive block denied Diaper a second goal moments later before goalkeeper Niall Conroy had to make a smart save to kick away a Josh Ford effort for Holbeach.
But Rovers’ passage was soon assured as Diaper guided a cool finish past Drury at his near post after being released by a smart Hyem pass.
The goal was laced with controversy as play continued even though Holbeach defender Jonny Clay was down with a facial injury which forced him off, but there was no doubt Rovers deserved to win.
Drake added: “We were disappointed not to have come in ahead at half-time after having good chances.
“We got more opportunities than we expected to have, but we managed to get the goals we needed in the second half to win the game.
“We looked dangerous going forward and we also produced one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen from us.
“Joe has a habit of scoring free-kicks and showed again what an unbelievable left foot he possesses and I was delighted for Austen to come on and get the second goal with another great finish.”
Rovers’ focus now shifts back to their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title challenge. They face a tough test at fourth-placed Walsham-le-Willows this Saturday, 3pm.