FOOTBALL: We're up for the cup, says Ardley chief

Steve Howkins scored Ardley United's opener against Reading Town

Steve Howkins scored Ardley United's opener against Reading Town

First published in Sport Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Non League Football. Call me on 01865 425488

Ardley United chairman Norman Stacey is convinced the Uhlsport Hellenic League leaders can upset the odds when they take on Oxford City at Thame United tonight (7.45).

Kevin Brock’s side warmed up for the semi-final clash with the club he used to manage, with a 2-0 win at Reading Town on Tuesday.

Goals from Steve Howkins and Ben Thomas saw them maintain their one point lead over Wantage Town.

Although they are three divisions below Mike Ford’s side, Stacey says the players are keen to put on a show against the Skrill North side.

“The boys are really up for it,” says Stacey.

“We’re in with the chance of the league, we’re still in the League Challenge Cup and the Senior Cup.

“I know it’s a big competition for Brocky. He rested a few players against Reading, so he’ll be putting out his strongest side.

“It will be interesting to see what side Fordy puts out because with Oxford United out it may change his plans.”

The winners will face Kid-lington in the final after they pulled off a shock 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against a strong U’s line-up.

Two years ago, Ardley reached the last four, only to lose 2-1 to tonight’s opponents, again at Thame.

Stacey added: “With Kid-lington doing such a great job against Oxford United, it gives our lads a bit more enthusiasm to reach the final.

“It’s a big night out for us. It would be great to have an all-Hellenic League final.

“It’s always been my ambition to get to the Senior Cup final and to win the league.”

Ardley started strongly in Tuesday’s clash and almost went ahead on 30 minutes, only for Howkins’s free kick to hit the angle of bar and post before bouncing clear.

Seven minutes later, though Ardley went ahead.

Ryan Brooks was brought down as he broke into the box and as the players waited for a penalty to be awarded, Howkins hammered the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Ardley made it 2-0 three minutes into the second half.

Jon Gardner whipped in a cross which Thomas dived to head home.

Chris Jackson was twice denied as Ardley ended the game at a canter.

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