New Haverhill Rovers boss Ali Shulver: My biggest challenge

HAVERHILL Rovers new interim caretaker manager Ali Shulver admits he has taken on his biggest-ever challenge – and is hoping for the perfect start against Woodbridge Town today.

Peter Betts ended his four-year reign as first-team manager of the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division outfit last month, with Shulver announced as his short-term replacement last week.

The Rovers committee chose to promote Shulver, 42, who has worked within the Rovers youth system, to the post to avoid any mid-season disruption, having initially intended to hold interviews for the position next week.

Betts will still be involved with the club to provide support to Shulver, with Rovers set to renew their search for a manager at the end of the campaign.

But for Shulver, his new role at New Croft begins today – and he is already outlining where he wants to take the 10th-placed side.

“It will be an honour [today] but it will be quite nerve-racking as well,” said Shulver.

“Without a shadow of a doubt it is the biggest challenge for me at this level. Your reputation is on the line.

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“But I’m always willing to take on a challenge and I will relish this one.

“I was in the committee meeting when it was decided and I wasn’t particularly scared. I was excited straightaway.

“I’m optimistic. Looking at the squad and our form I think we can potentially finish in the top five.

“Peter [Betts] constantly drilled that into the team and I think we have proved that over the last two years.

“Against Leiston in the Suffolk Premier Cup we were only knocked out on penalties.

“We proved that day we can compete with the very best teams in the area, but consistency will be the key.”

Shulver – who has twice managed the side this season in Betts’ absence; the 1-0 win at Norwich United and the 3-2 defeat at Gorleston – is fully aware of Woodbridge’s threat.

They trounced third-placed Brantham Athletic 4-0 last week and are unbeaten in their last four matches, but with Rovers winning five of their last six fixtures Shulver is hoping he will not disrupt that promising form.

“Woodbridge have actually been our bogey side over the last couple of seasons,” added Shulver. “I’m expecting a highly competitive game.

“They’re coming off the back of a fantastic result. They are a good footballing side and they pack the midfield.

“It’s usually a 4-5-1 and they go 4-3-3 when they’re attacking. They have a strong aerial threat and will be tough to beat.

“But Haverhill is my home club now. I live in the town and I hope we get a lot of support to get behind the boys.”

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