10:00am Monday 7th May 2012
By Nick Farrant
Oxford City boss Mike Ford has urged his side to re-write the club’s history books by beating AFC Totton in the Premier Division play-off final at Court Place Farm today.
City set-up a showdown with the Hampshire side after beating Cambridge City 1-0 on Thursday night, while Totton beat Chesham United 3-2 in the other semi-final.
And now Ford says another gritty performance is needed if City are to reach the Blue Square Bet South for the first time in their 130-year history.
“It’s the biggest game the club has had in a number of years and that includes the FA Vase game,” said Ford.
“The players have earned the opportunity to become Conference players.
“I don’t want them to be uptight or nervous. In the past week my team has really grown up.”
Ford has a perfect play-off record.
“I don’t want to tempt fate, but I have been in five play-off games and won them all,” he said. “I will just be telling the players to relax. They don’t need me to tell them the enormity of the occasion.
“In all the play-offs I have been involved in, the teams have played with a freedom.
“There is a massive prize at the end of it, but as a player you have to go out, enjoy it. and play with your hearts and heads.”
He added: “Early in the season, I had a number of questions about my players and at Christmas a few more, but now I have no questions at all about their ability.
“They are good enough to go and win the game. They have to relish the challenge.”
City are set to be unchanged, with defender Chris Willmott, who scored the winner against Cambridge after passing a late fitness test on an ankle problem, again expected to keep skipper Wayne Blossom out of the starting line-up.
Ford revealed that Willmott would not have played had the semi-final been played 48 hours early, as first scheduled.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make as a manager,” he said. “By leaving your skipper out you do open yourself to criticism.
“But fortunately for me, we kept a clean sheet and Chris gets the winner. He would not have played Tuesday, so maybe someone is smiling on us.
“We just have to make the most of it.”
Oxford City: from Mooney, McLoughlin, Blossom, Learoyd, Willmott, Ballard, Issac, Martin, Lyon, Benjamin, Malone, Skendi, Barcelos, Basham, Woodley, McDonagh, Bell.
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