Guernsey Press

A Rec repeat or can Rovers end their jinx?

ROVERS boss Kevin Gillease says his squad is ‘as strong as it could possibly be’ as they gear up for a second straight Stranger Cup final against reigning holders Vale Rec tonight.

Vale Rec striker Marlon Jardim will miss the Stranger Cup final due to a hamstring injury. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33128188)

The Port Soif outfit, who were edged out 2-1 by Mark Romeril’s team in last season’s final, have never won the Stranger in its 119-year history, while Rec’s victory in 2023 marked their 20th triumph in the competition.

Vale Rec also come into the clash fresh from being crowned the Priaulx League champions for the first time in over two decades, and are unbeaten against Rovers in all competitions this season.

‘We’re going to draw on the disappointment of last year’s final to hopefully change it this time around,’ said Gillease.

‘It’s a similar situation to the FA Cup final last year – we played North a year after losing to them in the final and we managed to get the job done, so we’re going to try and do the same thing again.

‘I am sure Rec will be raring to go. They have the league in the bag and can fully concentrate on this game so it’s probably bad timing for us playing them now.

‘We are concentrating on ourselves, though, and I do not see Rec as the clear favourites.

‘It is going to be difficult, but in our eyes we still believe we are the team to beat.’

Gillease also spoke about the prospect of being the first Rovers coach to go all the way in the Stranger Cup, and said it would be a ‘brilliant achievement’ for his side.

‘It’s hard to believe we have never won the competition,’ he said.

‘We have been in so many finals since winning the Priaulx for the first time but it’s never quite happened – we will never give up, though.’

Vale Rec are looking to complete a domestic double in the space of four days after being crowned as Priaulx winners on Tuesday.

‘All of our attention is on this game and I think the league being confirmed now releases the shackles a bit,’ said head coach Mark Romeril.

‘This season the Priaulx was always the main focus, but the Stranger is absolutely a big deal for us.

‘People associate this cup with Vale and we’re never going to take it lightly.

‘Rovers will be very keen to get one over on us, especially since they have not won it before, so they’ll be doing everything they can.’

Romeril also confirmed top scorer Marlon Jardim will miss out on the game due to a hamstring injury.

‘Other than Marlon we have a clean bill of health, and the good news for us is that Damo [Damien Larkin] is back in the fold after his injury.

‘The last month has been the hardest of the season with the games against North and Rovers, and my hope is that we’ll now be back to our best and play the free-flowing football we have for the majority of the season.’

On a big weekend of cup final action, North take on holders St Peter in the Jeremie showpiece at the Track tomorrow.

Keene Domaille will be looking to continue his fine form for North in tomorrow’s Jeremie Cup final versus St Peter at the Track. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33149483)

Jose Alvarez’s team edged out Sylvans 1-0 earlier this month to reach the final, while St Peter beat new Jersey champions St Clement 2-1 to advance.

‘I am confident going into the game – we have to play without fear and if we can do that I have no doubt that we’ll give a good account of ourselves,’ said Alvarez, who was speaking before St Clement clinched the Premiership title on Wednesday.

‘They have been the best team in the Channel Islands for a few years, but surprisingly they are unlikely to win their league this year. That just means they’ll focus more on the cup, though, so it is going to be very difficult.

‘We played them in a pre-season friendly and to me they are the best team we have played against – they’re very good technically and tactically.

‘They are very strong with a solid structure, and have a lot of players with experience.

‘We want to play against the best teams, though, as it is the only way to improve.

‘Jersey teams always seem to have this belief in that and they always come into games expecting to win, and I am not sure Guernsey players quite have the same mentality. That is something we are trying to get into our players, because we know we can match them.’

North had picked up eight consecutive wins prior to this week, but were beaten 4-1 by St Martin’s on Tuesday at Blanche Pierre Lane.

‘The Saints game was not good preparation for us, but it is a good wake-up call for the lads that they cannot just go in and presume that they’ll win just by turning up, we have to always do the right things,’ said the North manager.

‘St Martin’s competed so well, they were very aggressive and much more energetic than us.

‘That game will not impact us ahead of Saturday, though.

‘It is a big responsibility for us because we’re representing Guernsey and we want to show that the gap is smaller than people think.

‘We played St Clement earlier in the season and we deserved to beat them, so we know we can compete at the top level.’

The Jeremie Cup final gets under way at 2pm tomorrow at the Track, while tonight’s Stranger Cup final kicks off at 7.30pm at Blanche Pierre Lane.