YORK CITY forward Michael Coulson said he had to “take courage” from his part in the Minstermen’s revival as he looks forward to next season.
The former Grimsby and Scarborough player was the forgotten man at Bootham Crescent earlier in the League Two season - failing to make even the bench in 14 successive games after being dropped from the side in September.
But the 26-year-old, who has battled back from three cruciate ligament injuries, is made of stern stuff and played a key role in Nigel Worthington’s side as they surged into the play-offs during the second half of the campaign.
Declaring himself “devastated” after York’s 1-0 aggregate loss against Fleetwood Town in the semi-finals, Coulson - who is out of contract - is looking positively to the future.
“I have to take a little bit of courage from what happened this season,” he said. “I was out in the cold and I battled back. It is pleasing to finish the season that way. In the end, though, it doesn’t mean anything when you don’t win the play-offs.
“I will be back again next season and we will see what happens then.”
Coulson was in the thick of the action at Highbury Stadium, forcing a first-half save from Cod Army keeper Chris Maxwell, before seeing a late shot deflect wide as City toiled in vain for the goal that would have forced extra-time.
He said of the performance: “Everyone left everything out on the pitch. We were absolutely unbelievable. I thought everyone was fantastic. Maybe we lacked that little bit of quality in the last third where we didn’t create clear cut chances but, apart from that, it’s the best we have played for a long time.
“It’s just absolutely devastating. I thought we deserved something out of that game and it is a credit to everyone - since Christmas the turnaround has been absolutely unbelievable and it’s been a pleasure to play in the team.
“We came wanting to attack. The way we performed showed everyone on Sky what we are capable of. It’s hard to put it into words. Everyone is gutted but who would have thought York City would be in the play-offs at the start of the season?
“Once you get there, you want to go all the way and, unfortunately, that’s not happened.”
Of his late curling chance that cannoned off a defender, Coulson admitted he initially thought it had a chance of being a tie-saver.
He explained: “When it leaves your foot, you know you have caught it well. Unfortunately, that sums the game up really - a little deflection and wide. Everyone has put so much into that game and credit to the fans as well.
“I thought they were absolutely brilliant. We couldn’t have asked for anything more from them and all the lads appreciate that.”
Coulson believes if City chief Worthington can continue to build his squad, there will be a “positive outcome” for the team in 12 months time.
“The gaffer has built a great squad,” he stressed. “The signings in January boosted us a lot and, unfortunately, I think the loss of Wes (Fletcher) and Josh (Carson) was a massive blow for us. They could have been the difference in the play-offs with their quality.
“The lads that have come in have all done really well. If we stick together as a team for next season, I think it’s a positive outcome.”