United have to start from scratch in Wembley bid - and that suits their boss

It's up for grabs - Simon Rowland talks to his players straight after the first leg

It's up for grabs - Simon Rowland talks to his players straight after the first leg

First published in Sport by

Simon Rowland admits it might sound strange but he was pleased about Sholing’s late equaliser in last Saturday’s FA Vase semi-final first leg.

Eastbourne United host the Southampton-based side in the second leg at The Oval today with the scores locked at 2-2.

The County League division two leaders were on course for a first leg advantage until Mike Carter netted seven minutes from time.

The goal was a body blow to United at the time but, having thought about it, Rowland believes it could help his side in their quest to reach the final at Wembley.

Rowland, 34, believes knowing they have to win the game will suit his players better rather than trying to hang on to lead they established in Hampshire.

He said: “I looked at their second goal on Saturday and I was disappointed initially. But I reflected on it with my management team and I just feel that second goal may help us.

“It will change our mentality, not so much mine or Scott Price’s or Andy Laskey’s, it will change the players’ mentality.

“No matter how you set up, if you are 2-1 up going into a game you are heavy favourites to win that game playing at home and automatically you will be on the back foot because they will be playing on the front foot.

“To find momentum to go from a defending unit to trying to attack when they have just scored and are on top can be very difficult.

“So the second goal, albeit it was a bit of a killer at the time, when you reflect on it we are now going into a tie we are much more familiar with.

“The two-leg format doesn’t really play a part now. The players have gone down to Sholing, they have done their jobs brilliantly, they have come away with the exact result we needed in many respects and now it is a one-off game at home in front of a bumper crowd.

“I think that is a better format for us, one the players are familiar with. Whoever plays the best on the day and maybe gets a little bit of luck along the way will be playing at Wembley.

“It might not sound logical but when you think about it, it could help us.”

Eastbourne United are expecting a bumper crowd for the game – nothing like their record attendance of 6,600 for a Sussex RUR Cup tie with Eastbourne Town in 1956 but also vastly in excess of the 78 they had for their last league game against Steyning Town.

The club are expecting 1,500 and hoping it could pass the 2,000 figure.

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