Kevin Brock is determined his Ardley United side won’t end the season empty-handed after they were pipped to the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division title by Wantage Town.
Although they won 2-1 at Bracknell on Monday with goals from Stuart Bridges and Ollie Stanbridge, Wantage’s 5-1 victory at Abingdon Town saw them win the crown.
And tonight, Ardley have a chance to banish the blues against Kidlington in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup final at the Kassam Stadium (7.45).
Brock felt their title bid ended on Saturday, when news emerged of Wantage’s late win at Ascot United while Ardley were beating Highworth 2-1 in the Blue Fin Challenge Cup semi-final, Callum Convey and Jon Gardner the scorers.
“It’s disappointing to lose out on the title,” said Brock. “But we knew it was coming.
“While the game was going on against Highworth we looked at the Twitter feed.
“We saw Ascot had scored to make it 1-1 and were confident they would hold on beca-use they are a solid side.
“But then Wantage got the winning goal five minutes from time, so the atmosphere after the cup game was very flat. It was a dreadful day.”
Brock said he was pleased his side had taken the race to the wire.
He added: “We made sure that Wantage had to win their last game to get the title.
“It’s frustrating because only one side can go up as we had such a good season, but that’s how it goes.”
Brock, who has been boss for six seasons, has his sights on Kidlington in the first all-Hellenic final since 1985.
It’s the first time Ardley have made the final and Brock, whose side face Ascot in the League Cup on Monday, wants to make it special.
But the boss said Kidlington would be tough.
He added: “We know Kidlington are a decent team, so it won’t be easy.
“I’ve had success in the Senior Cup with Banbury, but for Ardley to win it would be a fantastic achievement.
“We want to finish the season with something.”
Brock feels that his side will be mentally strong enough to cope with the blow of losing out on the title to Wantage.
“We’ve had a few days to pick them up, so I don’t think that will be a problem,” he said. “Playing in front of a decent crowd will be a good incentive for them.”
Ardley are waiting on the fitness of Ryan Brooks and Tommy Kinch ahead of tonight’s game.
Top-scorer Brooks missed Monday’s 2-1 win at Bracknell Town due to illness, while midfielder Kinch limped off with a knee injury, but boss Kevin Brock hopes the duo will be fit.
Ardley Utd (v Kidlington): from Harding, Smith, Kinch, Convey, Thomas, Jackson, Stanbridge, Bridges, Bryan, Brooks, Howkins, Gardner, McIntosh, H Brock, D Beckett, A Beckett.