Ashby Ivanhoe Vs OJM Black Country: MFL Division One, Playoff Semi-Final Preview

By Josh Kay

2nd May 2023 | Local Sport

Action from OJM's last visit to Ashby Ivanhoe
Action from OJM's last visit to Ashby Ivanhoe

Second face fifth at the NFU Sports Ground tomorrow night (Wednesday) to decide who will face Droitwich Spa in the MFL Division One play-off final.

The match takes place a year to the day that Ivanhoe were beaten 4-2 by Stapenhill, at the same stage of the competition.

OJM's fifth place finish marked a step in the right direction, last year's sixth place meant they missed out on the play-offs but an improved campaign in 2022-23 has given them a promotion shot.

Both sides enter the game in good form. Ivanhoe have won five and lost one of their final six games, while their opponents have four victories, a draw and a defeat in their last six.

Ashby were the MFL's best home side in 2022-23, winning 17 out of 20 matches at the NFU.

OJM lost six of their 20 away matches this season, but only conceded 23 goals away from home which makes them the league's third best defensive team on the road.

The key men:

• Ashby's Sam Grouse finished as the division's top goal scorer with 42 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions.

Grouse did not feature last time out against OJM but scored the winning penalty in Ivanhoe's 2-1 home victory over tomorrows opponents in August.

• In the same match, Zaqib Hussain scored OJM's equaliser. The goal was one of 32 in all competitions for the forward.

Hussain has scored in each of OJM's last five matches.

The manager's assessment:

Speaking after Saturday's 5-0 victory over AFC Bridgnorth, Ashby manager Andy Gray previewed the encounter and said: ''The preparation is mainly mental; we need to get ourselves right. Last year we stumbled at this hurdle but this year we have the great advantage of playing at home''.

''OJM are a good side, we know they've added a few new faces to their squad, but I think we're ready''.

Previous Meetings:

• 04/03/23: OJM Black Country 1-1 Ashby Ivanhoe

• 09/08/22: Ashby Ivanhoe 2-1 OJM Black Country

• 27/11/21: Ashby Ivanhoe 2-4 OJM Black Country

• 05/10/21: OJM Black Country 5-2 Ashby Ivanhoe

Team News:

Gray said that Chris Acott is likely to be fit after an early substitution on Saturday.

Will Groocock's abductor injury appeared to flare up against Bridgnorth and his status for the game is in question.

Match details:

Date: Wednesday May 3, 19:45pm kick-off.

Location: The NFU Sports Ground, Ashby De La Zouch, LE65 1FA


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