Midfield two pose threat
Dunston pair could hold the key
Danny Lye believes dealing with Dunston’s midfield threat is key to Ashford United’s chances of winning their FA Vase fifth round replay in Gateshead on Saturday.
The Homelands playermanager, who turns 35 today (Thursday), knows it will be tough in the North East, with the weather and pitch conditions also playing their part, as both teams chase a place in the quarter-finals and a trip to one of the competition’s favourites, Salisbury FC, managed by Steve Claridge.
Lye said: “Dunston’s holding and attacking players are a danger and two we have to watch and nullify them both.
“We also need to play higher. We dropped too deep at times on Saturday, which can be our Achilles heel when playing at home. It’s going to be a small, heavy pitch up there and will be a battle.”
Lye added: “Being drawn against Salisbury is a nice incentive for the boys but we can’t worry about that until after Saturday.
“It’s a long time since I played there but it means nothing at the moment.”
Ashford are travelling in style, using Maidstone United’s first team coach for the trip, staying overnight in Newcastle ahead of the game.
Club officials were delighted with the attendance of 636 at Saturday’s game, boosted by matches involving two of their neighbours – Folkestone and Hythe – being postponed.
Invicta boss and former Ashford manager Neil Cugley was there, with Tommy Sampson – who managed Deal to Vase victory at Wembley – in 2000 among the guests.
Meanwhile, long-term absentee Gary Clarke is putting no timescale on his return to action.
The United skipper has been sidelined since September with an abductor muscle problem.
He then had his recovery delayed after suffering another tear.
He said: “I have been doing a lot of work on the treadmill and lots of other different exercises and keeping busy doing other things, because not being able to play has frustrated the hell out of me.”
United under-18s are also chasing silverware and host Hendon in the Ryman Youth League Cup semi-finals tonight (Thursday, 7.45pm).
Ashford’s Ryan Palmer has this effort saved by Dunston keeper Liam Connell during Saturday’s FA Vase fifth round
tie at Homelands. Match report, 69