Brock hopeful Ardley can gain promotion

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ARDLEY United manager Kevin Brock is confident his side can win promotion from the Hellenic Premier Division following a strong start to the season.

The north Oxfordshire outfit are currently fifth at the halfway stage and have endured a frustrating Christmas period with games called off against Shrivenham and Witney Town.

But Brock remains confident his side, who are 10 points behind leaders Marlow with a game in hand, can go up this season.

He said: “I’m happy so far because we’re in contention. We’re a few points off where we’d like to be and a bit further adrift of Marlow than we’d have liked.

“We’ve got to play Wantage in our game in hand and they have to play catch-up. They’ve got difficult games but if they win those then that’s obviously good for them and makes it harder for us.

“We had players missing so it was a slow start for us. One of my players got married and that meant he was away and the stag do also meant players were missing, but I’m pleased that we’ve managed to push on and be where we are.

“It was a nightmare start in the first seven or eight games but we feel we’re a lot more settled now.

“We’ve slipped up in a couple of cup games which is disappointing, especially to go out of the Vase. If we can keep everyone settled then I’m confident for the rest of the season.”

Ardley’s most recent win came on Boxing Day when they saw off a resilient Flackwell Heath side 2-1.

Brock added: “It was a difficult pitch but I felt we played some excellent football. We were 2-0 up and cruising until they scored to give us an anxious last 15 minutes, but we saw it out. It was a pleasing all-round performance – the only downside was our finishing.

“We’ve been very consistent in the past few years, we’ve always been up there so now it’s just about the final step and the players are aware of that.

“If we can keep on Marlow’s heels and keep in contention then we’re confident we can make that final step.”

This weekend United host 15th-placed Highworth Town with a victory potentially taking Brock’s side up to second.

He added: “We beat them 4-1 away but it was a harder match than the scoreline suggests and we’re expecting another tough game. We’re hopeful it’ll go ahead, we’ve got everyone available and a full-strength squad.

“Our aim for the rest of the season is just to stay in contention at the top until the final five or six games and there’s no reason why we can’t do that.

“We’re playing good football and controlling many of our games but we need to kill off sides and take advantage when we’re on top.”