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Story posted: Friday, 22nd March 1991

Story courtesy of
Gresley midfielder Neil Lovell is still reliving the moment that counts as the most glorious and memorable in his soccer career.
It came when Rovers’ Wembley dreams were seconds away from crashing into the ashes of defeat at Knowsley.

It was Lovell who struck the goal, after five minutes of stoppage time that kept Rovers in the FA Vase at the fourth round stage.

It’s history now that Rovers went on to win that brilliant, unrepeatable game 5-4 after extra time, but Lovell admits: “I can still see the ball going in. I was estatic – and I felt like I’d won the pools.

“It may be a bold statement but the Knowsley match was probably the greatest I’ve ever played in. It was all ups and downs, highs and low, and it was all about the will to win. To cap it all I feel I had one of my better games that day.”

Off the pitch, the 32-year-old Lovell, a former Sutton and Matlock player with more than 150 first team appearances in a Gresley shirt, is recognised as the joker in Rovers’ pack.

No-one else would have thought of turning up for a club outing dressed as manager Frank Northwood – complete with wig, club jumper with a pillow stuffed up the front and a cigarette hanging from the corner of the mouth!

On the field, though, the little man with a big heart is one of the driving forces behind Gresley’s success.

And the Long Eaton-based British Gas catering manager says that belief in their own ability can see Rovers through to the Vase final against Littlehampton in the two-legged tie beginning tomorrow at the Moat Ground.

“Everyone dreams of playing at Wembley and if we play to our capabilities and do ourselves justice we’ve got a great chance. We’ll have our supporters behind us and I honestly believe that, even though I’ve played in front of bigger crowds, there’s no one to match Gresley fans.

“You usually only get one chance to go all the way and I think this is mine. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity but we’ve got 180 minutes of footballing to do it.

“We believe we can do it. We showed we could battle at Matlock on Tuesday, and I think I speak for everybody when I say that we just hope we can do ourselves and the club justice over the two legs.”
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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