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Ex-NI ace Rowland eyes giant-killing

 

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Familiar face: Keith Rowland, now in charge of Aveley and on a quest for FA Trophy success, playing for Northern Ireland in 1996

Familiar face: Keith Rowland, now in charge of Aveley and on a quest for FA Trophy success, playing for Northern Ireland in 1996

Keith Rowland

Keith Rowland

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Familiar face: Keith Rowland, now in charge of Aveley and on a quest for FA Trophy success, playing for Northern Ireland in 1996

Keith Rowland's marathon men have Wembley in their sights and are plotting another giant-killing on Saturday in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.

The former Northern Ireland international's Aveley side have been the surprise package in this season's competition, with the Step 4 club defeating a host of higher-league teams.

They have already played an astonishing nine games, including two replays, but their next opponents will arguably be the toughest of the lot.

Notts County, who now play in the National League, have home advantage (12.30pm kick-off) and are odds-on to progress to the semi-finals, which are played over two legs.

Rowland, who took charge of Aveley after they were knocked out of the FA Cup early in the season, is relishing the challenge.

"For me as a manager it is a great achievement getting this far," he said. "Notts County are a big, famous old name but we have nothing to fear.

"I am certainly not overawed at the prospect of playing them. It is a really great draw for us and I am so pleased for my players.

"It has rightly taken them into the spotlight. I have one or two younger players and it is my mission to help them advance their careers."

The Essex side are pushing for promotion from the Isthmian League North Division and Rowland (48) added: "I knew there was work to be done when I arrived.

"Going out of the FA Cup was a bit of a disaster but the FA Trophy run has given us some financial stability going into next season.

"The club was in a bit of a lull and I felt I needed to lift it after having time out myself following a hip operation.

"I just changed the shape of the team and moved the players around and they have really bought into it. We have really taken off in the Trophy."

Belfast Telegraph


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