Regent Rovers aim to overcome holders Regent’s FC in Islington Gazette Cup final
PUBLISHED: 16:49 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:49 11 May 2016
Underdogs Regent Rovers are looking to draw upon a resilient streak when they contest their first ever Islington Gazette Cup final on Thursday night.
Rovers take on cup holders Regent’s FC, who have also been crowned Islington Midweek League champions for the second time in three years, in the final at Market Road (kick-off 8pm).
Although Rovers have never previously reached a senior final, they are the only team to successfully blunt the Regent’s attack this season, when the pair fought out a 0-0 draw in the league last month.
According to chairman Shaun Banham, that durable quality has been the hallmark of a successful season for Rovers, who are well-placed to achieve their highest league finish of third.
“We definitely see ourselves as underdogs, although we’ll take some optimism from holding them to that 0-0 draw,” Banham told the Gazette.
“I think the key is that, even if we go a goal behind – or two – we still see ourselves as having a massive chance in the game and that belief is there even if we’re 2-0 down in the 89th minute.
“We’ve been behind quite a lot this season and managed to turn it around and that’s really helped to develop our character. We’ve got a good team atmosphere, probably the best I’ve ever been involved in.
“Our team manager, Andrew Byrne, has done an excellent job. At the start of the season, we were a bit worried we might be relegation material but I definitely think we’ve been the third best team in the league.
“Although it’s a young side, we’ve got a couple more players in who are over 30 and they’ve helped the younger players to thrive. It’s almost the perfect balance now.”
Banham netted four times to help secure Rovers’ place in their second final of the season as they hammered West End 5-0 in the Invitation Cup semi-final.
Rovers led 3-0 at half-time, with Banham scoring all three, and his fourth was supplemented by a Peter Antoniadas strike in the second half. Rovers will now face league runners-up Islington Admiral United in the final.
Meanwhile, Regent’s FC boss Des Casey says his side are determined to hang onto the trophy – especially after their recent disappointment in the Invitation Cup quarter-final, when they lost on penalties to Myddleton Arms.
“There’s a winning mentality at the club,” said Casey. “It hurt severely when we lost to Myddleton, we know how it feels and we don’t want to lose again.
“This is one of the most prestigious cups in any league in north London and we’re eager to keep it. We admire any team that tries taking it off us.
“Regent Rovers have got a good spine to their team and they’re very well organised – we know they’ll be a handful and we’ll give them the utmost respect.
“But, with the team we’ve got at the moment, I feel we’re good enough to win most competitions.”