We’re the underdogs, we’re looking forward to give them a bit of a shock, says Ashford United boss Danny Lye
ASHFORD UNITED player-manager Danny Lye says he would rather win the Southern Counties East Football League title than lead his side out at Wembley Stadium in The FA Vase Final.
The Nuts & Bolts are in third-place in the league table on 44 points from 22 games, 15 points adrift of league leaders Hollands & Blair but with four games in hand.
Ashford United were held to a 1-1 draw after extra time by 2012 FA Vase winners Dunston UTS at Homelands Stadium on 30 January, before Lye’s men travelled up to Gateshead the following weekend to snatch a 3-2 win through Michael Phillips’ dramatic late winner.
Ashford United returned to the league and thrashed bitter-rivals Beckenham Town 6-1 last weekend, before beating Rochester United 4-0 in midweek.
Lye takes his side to play Wessex League leaders Salisbury on Saturday in The FA Vase Quarter-Final.
The Kent club will have two coach loads of supporters making the trip to Wiltshire and fans will also make their own way there to watch the club’s biggest game in their history under their current guise.
Excitement is building ahead of the game.
“I think so yes, I think it’s been starting to build the last couple of weeks for everyone to get a bit excited,” said Lye.
“I wasn’t too bothered about it until we got six points from our last two league games.
“Now we can look forward to having a weekend off the league and have a bit of fun.”
Ashford United were the underdogs against Northern League side Dunston UTS in the previous round and will have the same tag going into Saturday’s make-or-break game.
“It was good,” said Lye, who can play in the centre of defence or midfield.
“It was definitely good for the youngsters. Some of the youngsters haven’t been involved in a game like that before so it was a good experience.
“It was good to get the win and get into the next round.”
Ashford United go into their game against Salisbury in good form, having won both two vital league games since their FA Vase trip to the North East.
“Those two games were better than the Dunston game for me,” revealed Lye, whose side are now six games unbeaten.
“It’s easy to get people up to play Dunston away in Newcastle but to get people up for a league game on a Tuesday night at home against Rochester is a bit different, so I was just pleased to get the six points.”
Surprisingly, Ashford United do not use a scout to watch future opponents so will be going into the Salisbury game blind, while Salisbury boss Steve Claridge has had Ashford watched on two occasions.
“We’re the underdogs, we’re looking forward to give them a bit of a shock really and we’ll go at them and do our best,” said Lye, knowing Salisbury have won 18 and drawn 2 of their 22 league games and sit eight points clear of the top of the Wessex League.
“I’ve looked at the league table, that’s about it really! We haven’t gone and looked at anyone all season and I’m not going to start now!
“I know they’ve come and watched us a couple of games. They’re going to know what we’re going to set up as. They’ve watched us at Dunston and they watched us against Beckenham. Both games we played well. They’ll be fearing us as much as we’re going to fear them.
“I’m expecting a good game, a good cup game. We’ll do our best to win the game.
“If we don’t win the game it won’t be for setting up trying to stop them playing. We’ll set up to try to win.
“If we don’t win, we’re not good enough this year.
Lye, strikers Paul Booth and Shaun Welford, midfielder Michael Phillips and central defender Pat Kingwell will not be fazed by Saturday’s games having played in bigger games throughout their career.
Lye said: “We’ve been to Salisbury a few times. I’ve got a lot of experienced boys in the team that nurture the boys through and it’s a good experience for the younger lads.
“We don’t fear Salisbury by any means. They’re in the same standard as us. They’re top of their league and we’re third in our league and there’s 11 men on the pitch at the same time as we’ve got 11 men on the pitch.”
Tommy Sampson guided Deal Town to FA Vase glory back in 2000 when THAT late Roly Graham goal sealed a 1-0 victory over Chippenham Town underneath the iconic Twin Towers.
Martin Larkin’s Tunbridge Wells were defeated 2-1 by Northern League side Spennymoor Town on 4 May 2013.
“I think it’s obviously on people’s minds but you’ve got three big games to play before we get anywhere near Wembley, but we’ll think about it,” said Lye.
“It will be a lovely day out to say you’ve done it, been at Wembley in The FA Vase.”
But Lye would rather guide the club into the Ryman League at the end of the season than make the same once in a lifetime walk as Sampson and Larkin.
“I said to you away at Hollands & Blair, I’d rather win the league, that’s my ambition this year, is to win the league. What happens in The Vase is a bonus,” said Lye.
“I’d take the league all day long. That’s over 36 games, where the Cup is six, seven, eight, whatever it is.
“Yes, we can have all three. We’re still in the Kent Senior Trophy. That’s why we play football, to win games.
“We go into every game to win. We don’t set up to stifle the other team. We set up to how we think we’re going to win the game and we’ll do the same on Saturday.
“We’ve got people who have played a level of football and we’ll use that experience to make sure the youngsters aren’t fazed by the occasion.”
At least 100 fans will be making the trip from to Wiltshire this weekend.
Lye added: “I think we’ve filled up one 42-seater coach and there’s rumour a second one that’s filled up but we’ll see. The support will be welcome to hear the old voices and there will be a few Salisbury boys so hopefully we’ll get a good crowd.”
www.kentishfootball.co.uk will be covering this game on Saturday and you can follow live updates from the ground by following Editor Stephen McCartney on Twitter www.twitter.com/KentishFootie - with the usual match report and reaction to follow late on Saturday night.
www.kentishfootball.co.uk would like to thank our Match Sponsors Sheppey Engineering and Browning’s House Removals.
Visit Ashford United’s website: www.ashfordunitedfc.com
Salisbury v Ashford United
The FA Vase Quarter-Final
Saturday 20th February 2016
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Raymond McEnhill Stadium, Partridge Way, Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP4 6PU