No fi­nal com­pla­cency

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Football - By Mark Stokes

Danny Lye says the mem­ory of what hap­pened in last sea­son’s Kent Se­nior Tro­phy fi­nal will guard against any com­pla­cency when Ash­ford face Cray Val­ley in this sea­son’s show­piece on Sun­day.

Twelve months ago United were ex­pected to beat Shep­pey – then still a Kent In­victa League team – but they lost on penal­ties, a re­sult which still ran­kles Ash­ford boss Lye.

United will again be favourites against fel­low South­ern Coun­ties East League side Cray at Maid­stone’s Gal­lagher Sta­dium on Sun­day (kick-off 3pm) hav­ing al­ready beaten them three times this sea­son but Lye says his team don’t in­tend to make the same mis­take twice.

He said: “It’s a bit of a curse isn’t it (be­ing favourites)? Last year we played Shep­pey who were a league be­low and ev­ery­one said ‘It’s Ash­ford’s, they’ve won it’ but we didn’t turn up on that day.

“Shep­pey out­played us, so we’ve got a point to prove this year.”

Lye ad­mits the Shep­pey cup de­feat forced him to look long and hard at his squad last sea­son but he feels his 2016/17 model has more about them.

He said: “We’ve got a few new faces from last year’s cup fi­nal.

“As a re­sult of that game and fin­ish­ing third in the league, I made some big de­ci­sions about who I wanted to keep and who I wanted to go. I wanted peo­ple who can man­age games and if you look at the play­ers we’ve got now, we’ve got so much ex­pe­ri­ence in the team.

“We’ve got some strong char­ac­ters and I don’t think any­one is go­ing to let any­one think they’ve won it be­fore they’ve started.”

He added: “We’ve had to deal all sea­son with be­ing favourites in the league but in any league around the world, if you’re one of the top teams and you’ve got the best play­ers, you’ve got to take that pres­sure.”

United en­joyed the per­fect prepa­ra­tion ahead of the fi­nal, beat­ing SCEL ti­tle ri­vals Crow­bor­ough 3-1 at Home­lands on Satur­day be­fore win­ning a po­ten­tially dif­fi­cult game at Whit­stable 2-0 on Tues­day night.

The re­sults moved them six points clear of Crow­bor­ough with just a hand­ful of games to play and Lye ad­mits he’d much rather be in Ash­ford’s po­si­tion than their ri­vals.

He said: “It’s great now to be six points clear and yes we’ve got two games up on them but I’ve been in chas­ing teams and it brings a dif­fer­ent sort of pres­sure. They’ve now got to win those games in hand.”

Richard Avery, Joe Vines and Matt Day are all cup-tied for Sun­day and Ben Davis­son is sus­pended while Lye says he plans to sit on the bench.

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