First's into final
By Gary Brigden
The First team reached the Premier Challenge Cup for the first time in the clubs history on Tuesday, when a single goal was enough to see off Bedfont & Feltham.
Darren Salmon and Donny Rennalls made numerous changes to the squad that lost to Guildford City. With both Ollie Ellaway and Craig Bradshaw unavailable, defender Aaron Bogle once again donned the gloves, whilst there was a recall for Ben Senior, in place of the ill Kyle Henry; the fit again Daryl Cooper-Smith replaced Phil Page up front.
In all fairness the game was a fairly turgid encounter, with nerves seemingly getting the better of both sides, with possession frittered away all to easily, and chances on goal at a premium.
The first half was instantly forgettable, however there were the occasional half chances. The hosts started brightly, and were almost ahead inside the opening minute, a slip by Craig Hastings, letting in league leading scorer Michael Capon, but Rovers keeper Bogle was out sharply, and a fizzed effort from the edge of the area also stung the Rovers keepers hands.
It wasn't all one way though, and after good work involving Senior and Matt Farrell, a low drive by Cooper-Smith bought an excellent save out of David Windmill away to his right.
That was pretty much it for goalmouth action in the first half, although on occasions Windmill's confidence with the ball gave the Rovers forwards hopes of catching the keeper out.
Half time though came scoreless.
Rovers scored the only goal of the game two minutes into the second half, when a quick through by Malachi Robinson found Brendan Murphy-McVey, and his clipped cross found the head of Farrell who thumped home (the third straight Rovers goal coming from a Murphy-McVey/Farrell link up).
Capon fired an effort just wide of Bogle's left hand post on 67 minutes as the hosts looked for an equaliser, and Rovers thought they had increased their lead minutes later when Cooper-Smith fired home from a Twum cross, but the flag was up and the goal chalked off.
Murphy-McVey made way for Felipe Melgaco with twenty minutes remaining. Four minutes later and Ross Nunn saw yellow for Bedfont for a horrible challenge on Twum.
Rovers peppered the goal with fifteen minutes to go, but both Ben Senior and Cooper-Smith were narrowly off-target with their efforts, and it was to be Senior's last involvement as he made way for Jevontae Hylton.
Bedfont threw players forward, and despite a couple of efforts of pinball inside the Rovers area, they were unable to force an equaliser, and Rovers progressed to a first ever Premier Challenge Cup final.