PAUL PHILLIPS is determined Ashton United will be a totally different proposition to the side Salford City have beaten three times this season when the clubs meet at Moor Lane tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Robins go into the play-off semi-final having won their last two matches, and their co-manager is confident they can give a much better account of themselves than they did in previous encounters with the NPL’s glamour club.
“To be fair, when Salford beat us 3-0 at Hurst Cross three weeks ago we didn’t really turn up. At their place we were possibly the better team but we had players missing so it wasn’t a true reflection,” said Phillips.
“Tomorrow will be a different kettle of fish. We know we’re the underdogs, but we’ve known that all season and we’re quite happy to keep that going.”
Phillips expects to have a full squad at his disposal. The only slight doubt is midfielder Adam Morning.
He added: “Whenever you get a play-off you know it will be a hard game. If we’d got Blyth, maybe they would have been feeling a bit sorry for themselves having got 99 points and failing to win the title. But I’m quite happy to play Salford who are five minutes away rather than having to go all that distance.
“The game is a cup final. We were underdogs two years ago and we managed to beat FC United. Hopefully we can do the same tomorrow.”
Salford co-boss Bernard Morley was in equally positive mood after the Ammies closed their league programme with a 2-1 win at Stourbridge.
He said: “If the lads do what they’ve done for the last six or seven weeks we’ll be all right. There was a little dip in form at the end of February but they’ve stuck together.
“We’ve beaten Ashton every time we’ve played them this season and people say the law of averages dictates that they’re due to beat us. Well I plan to put a stop to that. We’ll prepare right and if we do our job to our full potential we’ll hopefully get to the final on Saturday.”
The one thing Phillips and co-manager Steve Halford are hoping to avoid is penalties. Ashton have lost on spot kicks in each of the previous two seasons. They dread it happening for a third time.
“If it goes to pens we’ll just go back into the changing rooms and give it to the other side. We must be the only team who could lose to England,” joked Phillips.
Blyth Spartans are home to Workington in the other semi-final.