YORK City manager Gary Mills has insisted his side are relishing their two-legged FA Trophy semi-final clash against bitter rivals Luton.
The Minstermen have been paired against their fellow Blue Square Bet Premier top-five contenders to contest a place in Wembley’s May final.
It is a tie that will represent a rerun of the 2010 play-off semi-final between the two teams with, as was the case then, City playing host to the Hatters in the first leg on March 10 before travelling to Kenilworth Road for the return match seven days later.
In the other semi-final, relegation-threatened Newport have been pitted against Ryman Premier League minnows Wealdstone but Mills feels the time for reflecting on whether the draw might have been more favourable to his team has gone.
He said: “If everybody is honest, all the teams left in probably wanted to be drawn against Wealdstone and away in the first leg but, while that might have looked the easiest tie on paper, it does not work like that. Just ask Cambridge whether Wealdstone were easy or not when they got beaten by them in the last round.
“We’ve drawn Luton and are at home in the first leg. I would be telling lies if I’d said before the draw that I wasn’t bothered whether we were away or not in the second leg. It’s seen as an advantage and that’s why the second and third-placed teams in the play-offs get to play at home in the second legs of the semi-finals.
“But, if you are to achieve things, you have to prove you can beat teams like Luton and we’ve already done that 3-0 this season so we will relish both games and I can’t imagine Luton wanted to draw us. It’s two great legs to play in and the reward is a final at Wembley, which is fantastic so we’ve got to go and do the business.”
The possibility remains that City could face Luton over two legs again once the play-off places are determined at the end of April and Mills admitted that a victory over the Bedfordshire club in the Trophy, following on from the play-off triumph two years ago, could be of mental significance in that scenario.
He said: “Maybe it could be a psychological advantage if the two clubs also come together in the play-offs but that’s a long way down the road at this moment in time.”
Mills has also sent out a reminder to his players that the lure of securing a Wembley final must not distract from the chief objective of clinching promotion back to the Football League.
The Minstermen have two home games in the league against Hayes & Yeading and Tamworth before a trip to Grimsby is sandwiched between the Trophy semi-final legs.
Three consecutive league games against fellow promotion hopefuls Southport, Luton and Fleetwood then follow and Mills added: “We have two chances to get to Wembley and now is the time people start dreaming about it but we’ve got to put that absolutely to bed until we’ve played the next two games against Hayes & Yeading and Tamworth.
“It is massively, massively important we get to the play-off final – that’s the massive one and there’s a lot of hard work to be done to achieve that.
“First, we’ve got to stay in the play-off places and then we’ve got to get to the final and win it but it’s fantastic there’s so much still to play for and we are involved in all of it.”
Mills has signalled his intention to also reach the final of the North Riding Senior Cup by fielding a strong side in tonight’s last-four clash with Grangetown Boys Club at Bootham Crescent.
Paul Musselwhite, Daniel Parslow, Jamie Reed, Danny Pilkington, Michael Potts, Jamal Fyfield, Adriano Moké, Scott Brown, Jon Challinor, Matthew Blinkhorn, Moses Ashikodi, Erik Tonne and Ben Swallow are all set to play a part, as will David McGurk if he passes a fitness test on his knee injury.
“It’s a game to meet Middlesbrough reserves in the final so that would be another good match for us to be involved in,” Mills said of the semi-final that kicks off at 7.45 pm. Admission is £3 for adults, £1 for concessions.
Said Mills: “I’m delighted for him. In two of the last three games, he’s looked dangerous.”
FA Trophy draw
York City v Luton Town
Wealdstone v Newport County
(Ties to be played on Saturday, March 10, and on Saturday, March 17)