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Ashford United captain Sam Mott says the side need to make a better start to games

By Joe Harbert

Ashford United captain Sam Mott says the team’s slow start to matches needs to change if they are to remain in title contention this season.

The Nuts & Bolts, who scored a dramatic 89th minute equaliser to draw 2-2 at Herne Bay on Saturday, have conceded first in their last five league games, all before the interval.

They have also registered just one clean sheet in their last 14 matches in all competitions, and Mott insists that the side need to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch.

Sam Mott collects the ball against Herne Bay
Sam Mott collects the ball against Herne Bay

“The last few weeks it’s taken us to go a goal down to start playing, and I can’t really put my finger on why that is,” the 31-year-old said.

“The warm-up is always good, we all know our jobs and it’s not like we’re not well organised. Tommy (Warrilow) has drummed that into us since day one.

“Often we’ll concede a sloppy goal early and give ourselves an uphill task, and we need to get that right and not wait until after half-time to show what we can really do – that’s what’s been lacking from us so far.

“Nothing that is going wrong is due to a lack of work-rate or desire. The games against Cray Valley, VCD Athletic and Whyteleafe we conceded after five-ten minutes, and they were just bad first-half performances.

“We just need to be more ruthless in both boxes, and I think the next couple of games we need to get the first goal and then we can tighten up at the back a bit more.”

Despite already facing three of the top four in the table, Tommy Warrilow’s side remain firmly in the promotion hunt in sixth place on 19 points – just outside the final play-off spot in Isthmian South East.

Former Hornchurch keeper Mott, who kept a club record 78 clean sheets for the east London team, believes upcoming fixtures will allow the Homelands squad to build on what he believes has been a positive opening 10 league games.

He added: “It’s testament to all the management and the players that we’re in the play-offs, especially with all the ins and outs we’ve had.

“Obviously we were disappointed with the FA Cup and FA Trophy runs, but in the league it’s been a positive start.

“The aim is to get promoted and there hasn’t been talk of anything else. It’s unfinished business and the boys that are still here from last season feel exactly the same.

“We had a bit of a sticky patch, but I think we’ve now turned a corner and are going in the right direction.”

The team will hope to gain further ground on the sides above them during back-to-back home league matches against Whitehawk and Ramsgate on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

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