Whaley urges March Town United to show their ‘character’ after cup heartbreak

NOW is the time to show your character.

That was the message which Brett Whaley sent echoing around the dressing room last night after March Town United’s cup dream ended in heartbreak.

The Hares, who were bidding to reach their first cup final for 20 years, slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Godmanchester Rovers in the semi-final of the Ridgeons First Division Knockout Cup.

And while Whaley criticised his side’s “flat” display, he also insisted that the reaction of his players could prove crucial for the Hares’ ambitions.

“Now we will see what characters we have got in the dressing room,” he said.

“I’m desperate to finish fourth and if the players are thinking that the season is done because they’re not getting to a final, then they’re not the type that we want to take into next year.

“They don’t want to be remembered for one semi-final when they didn’t show up. The hunger should be there to become a better side and go again next year.

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“The season can’t just roll over and finish – we must pick ourselves up.”

High-flying hosts Godmanchester dominated proceedings in front of 150 fans last night – but it was a stroke of luck that gave them the lead as Chris Hyem’s over-hit cross looped over Aaron Butcher.

Only a flying goal-line clearance prevented Adam Rothery from equalising on the stroke of half time – but Rovers extended their lead in the 73rd minute through James Hall.

England futsal star Sam Murphy – back from university – looked bright after coming on as a substitute but March’s night was summed up in stoppage time. Luke Pepper’s penalty was saved in a dramatic finish which also saw Godmanchester’s Paul Bass sent off for dissent.

Whaley said: “For 80 minutes we weren’t ourselves. I don’t think the occasion got to us but I do think we gave them too much respect.

“Big games do come along and maybe we’re not used to playing in semi-finals and big occasions. Perhaps that’s why we’re fighting for fourth and they’re fighting for first in the league.

“The most frustrating thing is that we didn’t show what we’re capable of.”

March host Team Bury at the GER on Saturday (Kick-off 3pm).