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Cornard United manager Gary Monti says his side head to third-placed Framlingham Town in play-off clash without any fear





There may have ended 14 points apart but Cornard United boss Gary Monti says he takes his side to Framlingham Town in their Thurlow Nunn League First Division North play-off semi-final on Saturday (3pm) with no fear.

His confidence comes with the Ards having won 3-1 at home against their second-placed opponents in their penultimate regular season match, and having finished on a 12-game unbeaten run following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at eighth-placed Diss Town.

"We haven't got any fear. If we hadn't of played that game two weeks' ago we probably would have,” he said.

Cornard United manager Gary Monti has overseen a 12 game unbeaten run heading into the play-offs Picture: Mark Bullimore
Cornard United manager Gary Monti has overseen a 12 game unbeaten run heading into the play-offs Picture: Mark Bullimore

"Knowing that we've played them two weeks' ago and beaten them takes the pressure off a little bit.

"Don't get me wrong, I don't think we're going to go there and it's going to be an easy game. I still think it's anybody's game.

"Both teams are very even and they have some good wide players but then so have we.”

Luke Spurling has scored 23 goals for Cornard United this season Picture: Mecha Morton
Luke Spurling has scored 23 goals for Cornard United this season Picture: Mecha Morton

He added: “On current form I don't think anyone would want to play us and when it comes down to two cup games (for promotion) it's whoever plays well on the day and whether the luck goes with them.”

Reaching the play-offs, which are played as one-leg games with the highest-placed team getting home advantage, is some achievement for Cornard, given where they were.

When Monti made the move across from First Division South outfit Southend Manor in November to succeed the departed Jack Wignall, he inherited a side in 12th position and 10 points off the top five.

But after bringing in seven players in his first few days to transform the squad, he was confident he would deliver a play-off place. And a strong end to the season, including five wins in their last six, has seen him prove good to his word.

AFC Sudbury Reserves conceded four times at Cornard’s play-off opponents Framlingham Picture: Mark Bullimore
AFC Sudbury Reserves conceded four times at Cornard’s play-off opponents Framlingham Picture: Mark Bullimore

"We're looking forward to it, the club didn't think we'd be there so it's a bonus for them,” he said of their shot at promotion.

“I knew I was bringing a good team over, the only thing I didn't really know was about the other teams in the league as I was used to the South, but it's gone quite well.”

Conard had taken the lead at Diss last Saturday through a fine run and 25-yard finish from Tyler Kemp on his first start since a bad injury.

But Ryan Culleton conceded a penalty with eight minutes to go that Charlie Webb converted despite Ryan Lees getting a hand to it.

Monti said it looks like they will be without key striker Scott Sloots for the tie with parent club Halstead Town set to utilise him, though he pointed out Luke Spurling, who is available, has ‘been scoring goals for fun’ with 23 this season.