Super subs do the trick as Rovers fight back to win

GEORGE CLAYTON and Fin Whitmore were the heroes on Tuesday evening as their late strikes helped Rovers overcome a tough test from Manzur in the Rawlinson Cup quarter-final.

The team-sheets made for exciting reading in the lead-up to kick-off – both sets of squads were packed with Guernsey FC talent.

Brothers Liam and Kieran Mahon, Tom Dodds and Matt Loaring all featured for Manzur from the start, while Tom Strawbridge, Fin Whitmore and Frank Tobin were in action for Rovers.

Loaring was the one who drew first blood for Manzur as, after an even first 15 minutes, he latched onto the end of a Marlon Jardim cutback to fire his side ahead with a fine right-footed finish giving debutant Steve Balmer no chance.

Rovers grew into the game after falling behind as James Grundy struck just over the bar on two occasions with the pressure starting to build, although the best chance in the spell following Loaring’s goal fell to the island forward yet again, as he had a shot cleared off the line to deny him a brace.

The star-studded Manzur side were showing their class on the ball as the first half progressed, knocking the ball around expertly, although with half-time fast approaching Rovers were the side looking most threatening in attack.

Kevin Gillease’s side’s efforts got rewarded in the 43rd minute as Dale Webb opened his account for the season with a deflected effort that left debuting goalkeeper Seb Sheppard with no chance.

Rovers did not seem to be done, either, as moments later young forward Niall Hainsworth broke past the Manzur backline and struck just over the bar with a left-footed attempt.

Honours even after 45 minutes as Ross De Carteret brought a fascinating first half to an end.

Gillease’s men came out of the blocks in rapid fashion as the second half commenced, as Ben Le Tocq tested Sheppard with a powerful strike from 30 yards out, before the 19-year-old keeper had to fend off an onslaught of Rovers attempts in the following few minutes.

Hainsworth looked sharp up front during Rovers’ period of dominance, but his night was ended on the hour mark after a nasty challenge, bringing about the introduction of dangerous forward Whitmore.

Rovers continued to threaten the Manzur goal, which at this point was occupied by Guernsey FC’s Jordan Kelly, as a Clayton volley rocketed past the post before a darting Whitmore run ended in the striker going even closer.

The pressure was mounting for Mark Romeril’s side as legs were growing tired – Kelly saving his side from going 2-1 down before Manzur cleared an effort off the line for a second time.

Rovers were struggling to convert, though, despite their array of clear-cut opportunities in front of goal.

Gillease needed a hero and in the 83rd minute he got his wish as Clayton picked up the ball just inside the box and struck a left-footed shot past the outstretched gloves of Kelly into the back of the net to put his side in front.

A semi-final date with St Martin’s was at stake and Rovers were not going to sit back and absorb pressure, as minutes later Whitmore drove through the Manzur backline, held off two defenders in the process, and slotted the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-1, securing a spot in the last four for his side.

Rovers will play Leon Meakin’s Saints on Monday with a spot in the final up for grabs.

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