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FOOTBALL: Oxford City aiming to end Cambridge hoodoo in play-offs
9:10am Thursday 3rd May 2012 in Sport
Oxford City boss Mike Ford is hoping his side make it third time lucky when they host Cambridge City at Court Place Farm on Thursday night – but wishes he was ten years younger to help them do it.
City have home advantage in the Southern League Premier Division play-off semi-final, and are due a win over their Varsity opponents.
Ford’s side failed to beat Cambridge in the regular season, losing 2-0 away from home on New Year’s Eve, and drawing 0-0 last month.
But the manager is confident they can break their winless run against the Lilywhites and earn a home match against either AFC Totton or Chesham United on Monday for a place in Blue Square Bet South.
“We lost 2-0 away from home and were terrible that night,” said Ford.
“But when we played them at our place we should have beaten them. They have picked up four points from us this season, so I suppose you could say we are due to beat them.
“We have a decent home record, although we have probably drawn too many. I am hoping that a bumper gate will help cheer us to victory.”
Ford, 46, the former Oxford United defender, said he would have relished pulling on his boots for tonight’s big match.
“When you finish playing, you don’t miss the training every day,” he said. “But I wish I was ten years younger, as these are the games you miss where you can make a difference to a football club.
“For some of them, it could be the biggest game of their careers.
“We have an unbelievable opportunity to move this club forward.”
City will be without defender James Clarke (hamstring injury) and Darren Pond (ankle), while centre back Chris Willmott faces a late fitness test on a knee injury.
Ford says his players have the character to handle the pressure, and will be helped by the experience of losing to Redbridge in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup earlier this season.
Their build-up has also been aided by the David Lloyd Leisure Centre in Cowley, who invited the players to use their facilities this week.
“I think the game with Redbridge has helped us grow as a team and become more resilient,” Ford said.
“We have played in big games since then and the players have shown they can cope.”
Ford is hopeful that the pitch will be playable after the heavy rain.
He said: “There’s water on it, but we have had people there this week pumping it off the pitch.”
Oxford City: from Mooney, McLoughlin, Blossom, Learoyd, Willmott, Ballard, Issac, Martin, Lyon, Benjamin, Malone, Skendi, Barcelos, Basham, Woodley, McDonagh, Bell.