NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Godmanchester Rovers reach the Hinchingbrooke Cup final to make it a happy birthday for boss Ollie Drake
- Credit: Archant
He might have missed out on a birthday burger and a night of top TV, but Godmanchester Rovers manager Ollie Drake had the consolation of seeing his side reach the Hinchingbrooke Cup final on the day he turned 27.
The young boss could also be proud of the performance his Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title-chasers produced when negotiating a potential derby banana skin with a 3-0 semi-final triumph at Huntingdon Town last night.
Rovers were cheekily dubbed the ‘noisy neighbours’ by Town chief Jimmy Brattan in the build-up to a fixture that was preceded by plenty of social media provocation.
But they did their talking on the Jubilee Park with a dominant display which featured three second-half goals
Jack Chandler earned and converted the penalty which opened the scoring before magic Matty Allan started and finished the move that led to the Rovers advantage being doubled.
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But they undoubtedly saved the best for last when sealing victory with a third goal out of the top drawer.
Fine passes from substitutes Buster Harradine and Austen Diaper allowed marauding full-back Tom Spark to deliver a perfect cross which was given the finish it deserved by the head of another replacement, Simon Unwin.
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Rovers could, and probably should, have won by more but striker Russell Bull slammed the bar from close range when having an empty net to aim at while the game was still goalless, and captain Micky Hyem was denied in a one-on-one situation by Town keeper Quincy Shorunmu.
“I didn’t have a lot planned for my birthday to be honest,” said Drake. “I would probably just have ordered a Five Guys and watched some Peaky Blinders.
“It’s actually the third time I’ve had a game on my birthday while being a manager and I’ve won them all so hopefully they keep coming.
“To be honest it was a pretty boring first half when it was very apparent that we hadn’t played for two-and-a-half weeks.
“We told the lads that we wanted to see a better tempo and more quality in the second half and that’s exactly what we got.
“We were absolutely brilliant to be honest. The build-up to the penalty was great for the first goal, Matty produced a terrific finish for the second goal and the third was pure quality.
“Fair play to Huntingdon. They gave it a real go and try to play attractive football. They competed with us in the first half, but we upped it in the second half.”
Rovers’ reward is a final date against opponents from the United Counties League Premier Division.
They will face either Peterborough Northern Star or Pinchbeck, who contest the other semi-final on February 26.
Huntingdon posed little attacking threat last night but their hard work, energy and resilience in the first half ensured they were no pushovers.
Captain Corey Kingston saw an early penalty shout ignored while fellow frontman Jamie Waterworth half-volleyed over late on, but Town showed more than enough to suggest they will have no trouble in winning their United Counties League Division One survival fight.
Boss Jimmy Brattan said: “Godmanchester showed why they are challenging for the title at a higher level, but I felt we dealt with their very direct style of play comfortably in the first half.
“I think a lot of people were probably expecting a cricket score, but it took a dubious penalty to allow them to break through.
“Their second goal came from a set piece and their third was the only one that arrived after some actual football.
“We ran out of steam part way through the second half and Godmanchester could have scored a couple more, but we stayed as resilient as possible.
“We wish Godmanchester all the best for the final and our attention moves to our main priority of avoiding the drop in our league.”