FOOTBALL: Oxford City boss praises his side's spirit
10:10am Tuesday 1st May 2012 in Football
Oxford City boss Mike Ford has praised the character of his players after they sealed their place in the Premier Division play-offs with a 3-0 win at Hitchin.
They now have to wait until the result of Tuesday night’s AFC Totton v Bedford Town fixture to see whether they face Stourbridge or Cambridge City in Thursday’s semi-final at Court Place Farm.
A win or draw for Totton would see City host Cambridge and if they lose, then City would entertain Stourbridge.
“It’s amazing if you look at the league table because it looks as if we finished comfortably in second,” said Ford.
“But it’s not been comfortable at all. If we hadn’t got results against Frome (a 3-0 win) and Hitchin, we may not have been in it.
“Our last few performances have been excellent.
“The players deserve enormous credit for the way they have played. They have been magnificent.
“We have been up there since November and there to be shot at.
“After we lost to Redbridge in the FA Cup, that was a bit of a struggle. Every team has one and it’s how you get through it.
“But we came through it and finished strongly, which gives us momentum going into the play-offs.
“Whatever happens, the players have been outstanding for me.”
He said the attitude of midfielder Liam Malone, who has just come back from an ankle operation, epitomised the terrific team spirit at the club.
Ford added: “Liam had his operation and then went to Spain for three weeks to learn Spanish.
“I knew he was back and gave him a call to see what he was doing.
“He came to see our physio and said if he was needed, he was ready.
“Liam came on as substitute against Frome and was only going to play part of the game against Hitchin, but he ended up playing the full 90 minutes.
“We lost Darren Pond to injury, so having Liam back has given us a real lift.”
Ford said he didn’t mind whether they faced Cambridge or Stourbridge.
“Whoever it is, they have had a good season and we are expecting a very tough game.
“The players are enjoying their football.
“We had a big crowd for Redbridge – the FA Cup is about glory, but Thursday’s game is the real deal.
“To get into the Conference (Blue Square Bet South) would be unbelieveable.
“We want as many people down there to cheer us on.”