No final complacency
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.