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Gary Mills hails York City’s ‘incredible’ twin assault on Wembley glory
YORK City manager Gary Mills is targeting an “incredible” Wembley double having watched Matty Blair secure his team a place in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against old rivals Luton.
Blair’s extra-time 111th-minute header settled a tense semi-final second leg at Mansfield Town yesterday, earning the Minstermen a 1-0 win on the day and a 2-1 aggregate triumph.
The goal means City will now make two trips to the world-famous national stadium on consecutive weekends.
First up is this Saturday’s FA Trophy final against Newport County and then, eight days later, on Sunday, May 20, Mills’ team will meet Luton under the arch to decide which club regains its Football League status.
On that mouthwatering prospect, a proud Mills said: “We are going to Wembley twice in a week. That doesn’t happen to many football clubs and how good does it feel?
“What a way to end an unbelievable season. It’s great for this football club and, now, we need the icing on the cake because to win both finals would be incredible.”
Luton lost 2-1 at Wrexham yesterday but the result was sufficient to take them through 3-2 on aggregate.
The Minstermen, meanwhile, once more relied upon their exemplary away form to complete the job, having been held to a 1-1 draw at Bootham Crescent last Wednesday.
On the character his team showed to become the first side to beat Mansfield at Field Mill since November 5, Mills said: “There were people saying that we had missed our chance when we could only draw at our place, but we came up with another away performance where my players have given me everything.
“Mansfield are a very strong side who were full of confidence having been on a great run, which is all credit to them.
“But we are a tough team to beat away from home and don’t concede many goals.
“We had to defend for our lives at times and God knows how many long throws we had to deal with but, as I have said throughout the season, if you don’t concede, you don’t lose.
“I didn’t see any nerves from my players on such a big occasion and I learned a lot about them again.”
Blair’s header was almost a carbon copy of the 90th-minute goal he scored at Luton to send City through to the FA Trophy final with Jason Walker providing the left-wing cross on this occasion rather than Jamal Fyfield.
City boss Mills added that the goal was another reward for his excellent work ethic, saying: “He frustrates himself sometimes and he probably wasn’t having one of his better games. But he has the energy to keep going both offensively and defensively in terms of helping his full-back out and he’s ended up getting another late header for us.”
’Keeper Michael Ingham also received plaudits from his manager for keeping a clean sheet in the face of another aerial bombardment from the Stags.
“Their long throws caused a bit of panic at times but my ’keeper was excellent,” Mills said. “He came and took a lot of crosses and was also on his front foot when balls were hit over the top.”
City will now monitor the fitness of defensive pair Chris Doig and Jon Challinor ahead of Saturday’s Trophy final with both players limping out of the action at Mansfield.
Mills added: “Chris Doig was feeling his calf again. We knew he wasn’t 100 per cent fit but I decided to go with him and it was the right call because he gave me everything.
“He played until he couldn’t any longer because he felt that by staying on he might cost us, but that only meant I had to put Dan Parslow in there and Pars has been exceptional for me this season.
“He is 100 per cent York City and competes for everything. He’s a credit to himself and the football club.
“Jon Challinor was also feeling his hamstring so it was right to take him off. We will have to see how he is for Saturday. If he can’t make that, then we’ll look to get him back for the play-off final.”
On-loan Middlesbrough defender Ben Gibson, however, will be back from his four-match suspension.