I'd rather win the league than get to Wembley, says Ashford United boss Danny Lye
ASHFORD UNITED player-manager Danny Lye says he would rather win the league title than take his side to Wembley Stadium for The FA Vase Final.
The club are in third-place in the Southern Counties East Football League table on 38 points from 20 games – 13 points adrift of league leaders Hollands & Blair, whom are having a dream debut in the division.
Ashford United make the trip across The Solent to play Newport (IOW) in The FA Vase on Saturday, a delayed last 32 tie with a home tie waiting for them in the last 16 on 30 January being their reward.
Newport (IOW) go into the game sitting in ninth-place in the Sydenham’s Wessex League Premier Division table, having collected nine wins, a draw and eight defeats in the league this season.
Ashford United lost their 14 match unbeaten run as they suffered a 4-0 defeat at league leaders Hollands & Blair in the Macron Southern Counties East Football League Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals in Gillingham last night.
Lye, who played the entire game despite playing with a hamstring strain, admitted after the game that all eyes were on Saturday’s game on the Isle of Wight.
“I said to the boys it will be much like it was (at Hollands & Blair), the pitch won’t be great, it’ll be muddy and we have to earn the right to play and win the battle,” said Lye.
“I’ve played at Newport many times and it’s always the same over there. It will be wet and windy. We’ve got to graft to get a victory.”
The winners of Saturday’s tie will host Coleshill Town or Dunston UTS at the end of the month.
Birmingham based Coleshill sit in 12th place in the Midland Football League Premier Division, while Dunston sit in the top four in the Northern League.
Dunston UTS, meanwhile, won The FA Vase in 2012 when they defeated league rivals West Auckland Town 2-0 at Wembley Stadium.
“Never heard of either of them but this is my first year in The Vase for me,” said Lye.
“I’ve never heard of them! We haven’t looked at any teams all season so if we get through Saturday, we’ll worry about Saturday first and then we’ll start thinking about the next one then.”
Ashford United suffered their first defeat since the off-the-pitch struggles first came to light.
Enjoying a good campaign on the pitch has ensured fans have smiles back on their face.
“It’s hard work at the moment running the club with people because obviously two of the main people can’t be there (at Homelands Stadium) so it makes it tough but everyone’s pulling together and pulling to try to do something this year,” said Lye.
Lye insists he is not throwing in the towel when it comes to the title race.
“It’s Hollands & Blair’s to lose really,” he said.
“They’re flying as you saw last night. They’re confident, they want to score goals and they want to win games of football. They’ll be the team to beat. It’s just a case of hoping they slip up and just trying to win your games.”
When asked about reaching the Wembley showpiece Final, Lye said: “I’d rather win the league than Wembley yes. Get promoted, get out of this league, play at a better standard.
“A lot of our boys will be better in the next step up than this one.
“I’d take the league all day long. The Vase is over six,seven,eight games whatever it is. The league is over 38 games so that’s the real side to win leagues. One would be nice but I’ll take the league all day long over The Vase.”
Visit Ashford United’s website: www.ashfordunitedfc.com
Newport (IOW) v Ashford United
The FA Vase Fourth Round
Saturday 16th January 2016
Kick Off 3:00pm
At St Georges Park, St Georges Way, Newport, Isle of Wight PO30 2QH