NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Boss Ollie Drake makes a great case for the defence as Godmanchester Rovers shut out their rivals

Austen Diaper hit his first goals since returning to Godmanchester Rovers as they won at Gorleston.

Austen Diaper hit his first goals since returning to Godmanchester Rovers as they won at Gorleston. Picture: J BIGGS PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

Godmanchester Rovers manager Ollie Drake has spoken to his delight following his side’s defensive transformation.

Rovers have only conceded one goal in their last seven Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division games - a superb sequence which has established them as contenders to finish in third position.

Drake’s men kept clean sheets in a pair of fine victories in recent days, following up last Tuesday’s 2-0 triumph at Gorleston with a 1-0 home success against Stowmarket (the side who currently sit third) last Saturday.

It’s a far cry from Rovers’ form in the opening months of the season when their defensive record was a cause for major concern.

Drake admitted: “We were conceding far too many goals earlier in the season and it was something we had to address.

“Bringing Charlie Bowen back to the club has been a huge factor in helping us become a much tighter team.

“He has formed a really strong partnership with Arran Mackay in the centre of defence, but the whole team has contributed to a really pleasing turnaround.

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“We’ve only conceded four goals in our last 14 league games and that is a record which gives me great pride and satisfaction.”

Austen Diaper hit a brace in the victory at Gorleston - his first goals since returning to the club from Premier Division rivals Newmarket Town in December.

Diaper’s quickfire double arrived late in the first half and turned Rovers’ dominance into a match-winning advantage on a night when their hosts rarely threatened.

Leading scorer Jack Chandler provided the only goal as Stowmarket were sunk at the David Wilson Homes Ground last Saturday. He pounced from close range after Diaper flicked a Joe Furness free-kick into his path in the first half.

Drake added: “The two wins against Gorleston and Stowmarket provided the perfect response after losing at home to Histon recently.

“It was not nice to see them celebrating hard after winning at our place with 10 men, but my lads handled it very well.

“They sucked it up and put it right in the two games since. I’m absolutely delighted with the manner in which we defended in both matches.

“Our goalkeeper only had one save - admittedly a very good one - to make at Gorleston and I don’t recall him being tested at all by Stowmarket.

“It was the first time Stowmarket have failed to score in 31 games so that is another feather in our cap.

“Stats like show what a result and performance it was from our boys and we’ve now got a real chance of finishing third.”

Games continue to come thick and fast for Drake’s sixth-placed side. They go to Stanway Rovers tonight (Tuesday) and then head to Long Melford this Saturday before entertaining relegation battlers Ipswich Wanderers on Easter Monday.