AFC Sudbury manager says league game is the priority

CAST FITTED: Ollie Hughes will return from injury after having a special cast fitted to his hand
CAST FITTED: Ollie Hughes will return from injury after having a special cast fitted to his hand

Despite conceding their play-off bid is all but over, David Batch will not be letting his AFC Sudbury players’ minds wander ahead of their cup 
final on Tuesday (7.45pm).

The Yellows boss insists his side’s biggest game will not be Tuesday’s visit to Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium (7.45pm), but Saturday’s league visit of mid-table Waltham Abbey (3pm).

AFC won their first Ryman One North game in nine attempts on Tuesday night, Jamie Forshaw’s first goal since his return from Norwich United leaving them 10 points off the top five with eight games to play.

Asked if it meant their play-ff challenge was over, with four teams to overtake, Batch said: “Probably, but I think we have to win all our games to have a chance. Whether we will do that or not, who knows?

“Over the last month we have been absolutely decimated by injury and it has not been one or two players missing, there is a big list.”

But in a bid to focus his players ahead of Tuesday’s Ryman League Robert Dyas Cup final at Maidstone, he would not agree that is now their biggest game of the season.

“The biggest game of the season is Saturday — the biggest game is always the next game,” he said.

“The most important thing is to win your next game of football.

“It is about getting in good habits — we need to get the whole club into a winning habit. Over the last three years that has not been the case here.”

Batch said higher-league Maidstone were clear favourites at their own ground, but said his side will have a plan to give them plenty to think about.

“They should win it if they do their jobs properly as they will be the favourites,” he said.

“But we have to do our jobs properly and give them some problems they will have to find solutions to and see where that takes us.”

He added of the club’s first final since their penalty shootout defeat in the same competition to Ramsgate in 2008: “We are looking to go and enjoy it.

“You know what you are going to get with the pitch which is nice, and the players were the ones who chose to go there as they wanted to play in front of a big crowd and better atmosphere.

“It is nice to get in a final in my first season and I want to be in one every single season.”

Striker Ollie Hughes had a cast fitted to his hand injury on Tuesday to allow him to play both Saturday and Tuesday, with Batch saying he will not rest players for the final.

Ryan Henshaw and Scott Mitchell are both back from suspension, but James Baker (ankle ligaments), Stephen Spriggs (knee) and Matt Daniels (groin) will all miss out on the week ahead.

Batch added his praise for the noisy away fans who have been rewarded with free coach travel on Tuesday by the club.

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