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FA rules against Rovers in appeal at Wembley

MOVING ON: Haverhill Rovers manager Ben Cowling wants to move on from the club's unsuccessful appeal at Wembley Stadium last week
MOVING ON: Haverhill Rovers manager Ben Cowling wants to move on from the club's unsuccessful appeal at Wembley Stadium last week

The saga revolving around Haverhill Rovers fielding an ineligible player has finally come to an end following an appeal at Wembley Stadium.

Three members of the committee from The New Croft-based club made the journey to London to put forward their appeal against the Thurlow Nunn League’s decision to remove the three points gained in the 2-1 win at Wivenhoe Town back on October 29 last year.

Mason Newman was deemed to have been an ineligible player for the game and, after a lengthy battle to win back the points that were taken away, Rovers were unsuccessful in their bid and will replay the game at the Maple Tree Cars Stadium on Wednesday, April 26 (7.45pm).

But despite being disappointed with the outcome of the appeal, Rovers manager Ben Cowling says he has accepted The FA’s decision and now wants to focus on their final 10 games of the Premier Division season, starting with a trip to bottom side Swaffham Town on Saturday (3pm).

“We’re very disappointed but it is what it is,” he said. “It’s nice to know where we stand now.

“Obviously if we’d have got the points back we’d have nine games to play and three more points, which in a footballing sense would help with our end position.

“But the management and the team accept the decision and now we have 10 games to go.

“We want to push forward as a team and get as many points from those games as we can.”

A statement was released on the club’s website on Tuesday evening, which read: “(Haverhill Rovers) fully respects the decision made by the FA and retains excellent working relationships with both the FA and the Eastern Counties League (known as the Thurlow Nunn League for sponsorship reasons).

“The football club uses the FA Full Time system as a form of acknowledgement for when players are registered with the football club, as do 99% of other clubs in the Thurlow Nunn League as they operate in the same way, however it soon became apparent that this system is not recognised within the standardised code of rules both the FA and leagues adhere to, therefore the original decision had to be upheld.

“The football club would like to thank everyone that has shown it so much support around this issue in the past few months, and whilst the process has been a long drawn out one, it has become a valuable learning experience for all involved.

“The football club appreciates the FA recognised the case as an individual case and didn’t add the costs of the hearing onto the club which was much appreciated.’

n Friday night’s 2-0 defeat at home to Ely City saw Rovers finish the game with nine men following red cards for Harry Halls and Adam Sartini, but both players will be available this weekend as their suspensions do not start until next week.

Midfielder Jonny Milne (away) misses the trip to Swaffham, but Cowling’s squad will be boosted by the return of defender Ryan Geoghegan, who was absent for only the second time this season in the defeat against Ely.

With basement club Swaffham 14 points adrift of fourth-from-bottom Hadleigh United, the Norfolk side desperately needs a win against Rovers (15th) to keep their slim survival hopes alive.

“It’s important we make sure we stamp our authority on the game,” Cowling said.

“No-one is under any illusions that Swaffham will be scrapping for every point (to try to stay up).”

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