Willand Rovers player-manager Scott Rogers paid tribute to club president Pete Ward and chairman Mike Mitchell after the club’s 3-0 win over Barnstaple in the Les Phillips Cup final.
Rogers’ side took the trophy thanks to a brace from James Blake and one from Lee Smyth and Rogers revealed that he hopes the victory would give something back to the pair who gave him his first shot at management.
The former Bath City player said: “We had one goal disallowed at 0-0 but the boys were magnificent, right from number one all the way through to 11, along with the lads on the side.
“I’m really chuffed but more so for Mike Mitchell, the chairman, and Pete Duffy (Ward), who have both stood by me over the last two years. We’ve had some good times but we’ve had some sticky results, where we should have won but lost. Mike and Pete have always been great.
“We’re all always disappointed after losses but the following week we all come back in a positive attitude and go again – that’s what they’ve been like for two years and I can’t thank them enough and I hope this is me giving them something back.
“Apart from not finishing third, which I think we should have, I think we’ve done great. The cup runs do take their toll, but I’m glad that we’ve got some silverware to show for what’s been a successful season.
“We’ve proved to be a good cup side this season and winning this shows that.
“We earned a lot of money out of the FA Cup and to win this cup has been great. I can’t fault the lads and I’m just over the moon I’m able to give something back to the club that gave me a chance in management.”
The game was an even contest with Barnstaple – a team that play one step below Willand in the football pyramid – the form side in both Western League divisions, having stormed to the First Division title, losing just two games all season. Yet, as the game went on, Willand’s cup know-how shone through and they took the lead through Blake’s header five minutes before half-time.
Smyth then doubled the lead shortly after the break before Blake rounded off the scoring in the 63rd minute.
Rogers said: “In the first 20 minutes, Barnstaple were the better side and there was a strong wind.
“I think they’ve won about 90 per cent of their games this season – since Christmas we’ve probably only won about 50 per cent.
“They had a lot of momentum and winning is a decent habit to have. They came at us really strong in the first 15 or 20 minutes but our goalkeeper and defence stood firm.
“We knew that they would come at us, so we played a 5-4-1 formation with the knowledge that, if we stayed in the game, we would score goals and that proved to be the case.
“The first goal was massive as we didn’t want to go behind today. Barnstaple had a big crowd today and we had a good following, too, so the first goal was massive in a situation like that, as you never want to go behind in a cup final.”
Rogers added: “My boys react to pressure and we play cups games like we know we’re not going to get beaten, which ends up with us winning a lot of the time.
“I think sometimes we could take into the league a little more, to make sure we’re not out the game and that we are always staying in the game because we know it’s got to be decided on the day. There’s nothing worse than being out of the game with half an hour or 45 minutes to play, so the players need to take that cup mentality into the league now.”