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Bradford Park Avenue v AFC Telford: Big three-oh will be no barrier for Amari Morgan-Smith

He is not scared to admit it – Amari Morgan-Smith has a big birthday next week.

Amari Morgan-Smith wants to play on
Amari Morgan-Smith wants to play on

And as an experienced head, the soon-to-be 30-year-old is determined to help AFC Telford United overcome Trophy heartache, writes Lewis Cox.

The striker started both semi-final ties against Leyton Orient but wasn’t able to help Cowan’s men over the line.

However, Telford have been fighting on more than one front this term and, while the Wembley dream came to a crushing end, the No.1 goal is very much still in their sights.

The Bucks can do their top-seven bid a favour tonight by taking points from rivals Bradford Park Avenue, who are three places and seven points better off.

“We’re going away where we won’t have many fans screaming and shouting our names. We’ve got to focus our minds and be up for it,” said Morgan-Smith.

“We’re disappointed at the moment, but we’ve got to get ourselves back up quickly – it’s as simple as that.

“The experienced lads of us have been there before. People like myself and Barnsey (Barnes-Homer) will get around them and make sure it doesn’t affect them too much. We can’t dwell, we’ve got to move forward. If we dwell too long, that message is really important.

“Some lads might not get this opportunity (promotion) again. Our aim is to get promoted and we want to get that on our CV.

“We’ve had a good season, there’s been a lot of hard work put in and we want to get something out of it.”

Morgan-Smith has eight league goals this term, 10 in all competitions, and was satisfied with reaching the double-figure milestone – while setting his sights on another five. The Wolverhampton-born forward has a personal milestone on the horizon, too. He is 30 next Wednesday – but believes there is plenty left in the tank.

“Thanks for reminding me!” Morgan-Smith said of the big day.

“I look forward to it. We’re supposed to get ‘over the hill’ after 30 but I want to try to turn that around. I want to be a new generation that can last longer. I want to play as long as possible, be it 35, 36, or 40.

“I’ll try to give myself the best chance and be in the best shape.

“Look at (Jobi) McAnuff of Orient the other day. He’s 37 and you couldn’t tell – and I told him that!

“I don’t feel like 30, I hope I don’t look like 30 when I play! Age is just a number in football.

“I don’t want to talk about retirement but I want to be in coaching. It intrigues me, I’m always learning under people like Gav. I love football, I’m a student of the game.”

Park Avenue, one of just three sides to leave New Bucks Head with all the points in 17 National North clashes, are in fine nick, seven matches unbeaten.

Morgan-Smith said: “Knowing this league there won’t be much football played on the ground.

“We want to keep a clean sheet and nick a goal. We haven’t played in the league for a while at need to get back to it.”

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