We just have to make sure we don't throw the whole season away tomorrow night, says Ashford United boss Tommy Warrilow
ASHFORD UNITED manager Tommy Warrilow says he wants his side to take advantage of being at home for the Isthmian League South East Division play-offs.
The Nuts & Bolts completed their regular league campaign in second-place in the table, having collected 72 points from their 38 games.
Ashford United finished 13 points adrift of promoted champions Hastings United, so they will host fifth-placed Cray Valley (Paper Mills) in the play-off semi-finals tomorrow night.
Kevin Watson’s side completed their campaign on 66 points and the winners will play Herne Bay or Haywards Heath Town on Saturday’s Final.
“I think it’s been a good season, it’s been frustrating. We’ve been good, we’ve been bad and we’ve played well and we’ve played ugly,” said Warrilow, on the eve of the Homelands clash.
“I think we’ve done what we’ve had to do and sometimes you have to take your hat off and you have to acknowledge what Hastings have done at the end and they’ve had a gallop in their step and we couldn’t shut it.
“We tried to push Hastings as far as we could and we ended up where we ended up, which was second.
“Overall, I can’t be too disappointed because it’s probably the worst season I’ve ever had in management regarding injuries. We’ve had some long-term injuries and we finished second so I think that’s a successful season.”
Warrilow took his side to Eltham on Saturday 30 October and lost 1-0 to Cray Valley at Middle Park Avenue but won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Homelands on Saturday 26 February.
“When you get into the play-offs, it’s never going to be an easy game because they are the four teams that deserve to be there,” said Warrilow.
“We finished second and we’re in for a tough game tomorrow night.
“The silly thing is you can finish second and class it as a great season but unfortunately it doesn’t get you anything in this league. We just have to make sure we don’t throw the whole season away tomorrow night so we have to go out there and give it our all.
“Hopefully we should have a few boys back from injury. It’s just on the night, a little bit of lady luck. Someone once told me ‘I’d rather be a lucky manager than a good manager and it’s not a bad statement because sometimes you play well and don’t win and play badly and win so hopefully tomorrow night we will be on our mettle.
“I hope the town comes out because it’s great for the town. I’m pleased for the fans, it’s good that they don’t have to start shooting off and fly around somewhere. It’s home advantage so we have to make the most of it.
“Listen, I know how we’re going to set up tomorrow but I don’t want to say too much about the game. All these must-win games that we’ve had all season, these (play-off) games can have that title because they are a must-win game.
“We know how we’re going to approach it. We both like to attack but it’s a different game tomorrow. I know Cray Valley have signed a couple of players as well.
“As I’ve said from day one, we’ll concentrate on what we’re going to do and if my boys turn up on the day, I know there will be no problems.”
When asked whether there is pressure from the club to win promotion alongside Hastings United, Warrilow replied: “We want to go up. I said to Don Crosbie the other day. When I first met Don there was a five-year plan and you take it a year at a time. You would have thought we’d have two years of a pandemic that would wipe out two seasons of football?
“We’ve had a good season. We want to get out of the league. It’s a very difficult and frustrating league to get out of. Of course, we want to go up. We’ve come this far and we don’t want to throw it away.”
“I want to get out of this league and get back in the Isthmian Premier and I want to get out of the Isthmian Premier and back in the National League South. I had three fantastic years there with Tonbridge Angels. We want to get back to those days and tomorrow is an ideal chance to put our foot in the door to make a step towards it.”
Visit Ashford United’s website: www.ashfordunitedfc.com
Ashford United v Cray Valley (Paper Mills)
Isthmian League South East Division Play-Off Semi-Final
Tuesday 26 April 2022
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Homelands Stadium, Ashford Road, Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent TN26 1NJ