Mike Ford will look to adopt a siege mentality again as Oxford City bid to clinch a place in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division play-offs when they visit Hitchin Town tomorrow.

City’s manager has been irritated by critics – who he claims exist at both rival clubs and his own club – sniping at his team’s style of play and the success they have achieved.

His broadside comes with City requiring a point to be certain of a play-off place following a superb 3-0 win at Frome Town on Wednesday, which shot them up to second place. “The lads deserve loads of credit,” he said. “We have been pretty much under the radar, and lots of people have not been particularly complimentary about us and I have used that to drive us on.

“There are managers who should get on with running their own clubs and not pass comments on my team.

“There are people within our football club who would love to see us fail, but my players have been absolutely magnificent.

“Their professional character cannot be questioned. I will defend my players to the hilt. They have been outstanding for me and the football club.

“I think there are supporters who don’t like me and would like to see the club fail, to say ‘I told you so’.”

With the second-placed club to host the fifth-placed side and the third to entertain the fourth in the play-offs on Tuesday, followed by the higher-placed winners being at home in the final on Bank Holiday Monday, May 7, there is a big incentive to finish in style.

Club captain Wayne Blossom is added to the squad after missing Wednesday’s win as his wife gave birth on the same day, but Darren Pond and Chris Willmott remain sidelined with injury.

And Liam Malone is also included after making his comeback in midweek following what was expected to be season-ending ankle surgery six weeks ago.

Ford added: “He has made a miraculous recovery. His attitude and character suggests he has put himself out for the benefit of the team.”

Oxford City: from Mooney, Clarke, Ballard, Learoyd, Lyon, Benjamin, Martin, Skendi, Issac, Basham, McDonagh, Woodley, Malone, Barcelos, Bell, Blossom, McLoughlin.