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Ashford United midfielder Tom O’Connor says the team need to make Homelands a fortress

By Joe Harbert

Tom O’Connor admits Ashford need to make Homelands a fortress until the end of season following their latest setback against VCD Athletic on Saturday.

United, who suffered their ninth defeat of the season with a 3-1 loss at the Dartford outfit, now sit second in Isthmian South East. With just eight games left to play, the destiny of top spot is now out of their hands.

Yet with five of their remaining fixtures at home, including upcoming back-to-back games against play-off chasing Herne Bay and Whyteleafe, midfielder O’Connor feels the team simply need to rediscover their winning mindset.

Tom O'Connor Picture: Andy Jones
Tom O'Connor Picture: Andy Jones

“It just seems like we lack concentration sometimes and become vulnerable,” the 23-year-old said.

“VCD got at us straight away on Saturday and it took us a long time to adjust our game – we dropped our gears and they cut us open at times, and we know we can’t play like that.

“But we know how to defend and we always go out with the mindset of working hard, pressing and hunting in packs.

“Our away form has generally been good this season and that’s something we need to return to quickly, and then when we play at home we need to make it a fortress.

“Crowd numbers seem to be increasing lately and hopefully that will play a part until the end of season, but obviously whether we’re playing home or away we need to have the same mindset of getting three points.

“Whether that’s winning ugly or playing pretty football, we just need to make sure we win because that’s all that matters now.”

Despite United suffering their second loss out of three in the league and having played more games than all of their closest rivals, the former Thamesmead Town midfielder is refusing to rule out Ashford returning to the division’s summit by the season’s climax.

He added: “We’re going to keep pushing until the end of season – there could be any number of twists and turns, so it’s about being consistent.

“Obviously we hope the teams around us have a blip, but we just need to show the team we are by continuing to create chances and score goals.

“As long as we approach matches in that way, we can then start to play with a bit more swagger and a bit more style, and show teams why we’ve been near the top for most of the season.

“Playing Herne Bay before we know they’ve got some good individual players, but as a camp we know on Saturday we can beat them, because on our day we can beat anyone.”

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