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Play-off final at Wembley : York City v Luton Town
WATCHING Newport County’s players trudge up the Wembley steps defeated is something Paddy McLaughlin is determined not to experience after the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final against Luton Town.
The 21-year-old studied the faces of the Exiles’ squad following their 2-0 defeat to the Minstermen in the FA Trophy Final last weekend as they collected their losers’ medals.
And the Northern Irishman has concluded the feeling is one he is desperate to avoid as he and his team-mates return to the arch on Sunday bidding for a place in the Football League.
Of his winning debut at Wembley, he said: “I have played at some of the biggest grounds in the country before but Wembley is the home of football and you grow up being told about it and watching FA Cup finals on TV and England internationals.
“Just to be able to say I’ve played at Wembley is absolutely on a different level. It’s an unbelievable stadium. It’s massive and the pitch is perfect – everything about it was a great day. That will definitely relax the lads. We’ve all been there now and we have all seen what it’s like and we know what it takes to win there.
“That can only stand us in good stead for Sunday. We watched the Newport players walking up the steps to collect their losers’ medals and that definitely didn’t look nice. I don’t think we want to experience that.
“The lads who have experienced that in the squad all said it’s not a nice place to be when you lose. Hopefully, we can go there and get another win on Sunday and go up those steps to collect another trophy.”
McLaughlin was praised for his outside-of-the-boot pass that put Ashley Chambers away to set up the clinching goal for Lanre Oyebanjo in York’s Newport win, but he admitted he was acting on instinct rather than design.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time,” he said. “It was just instinct. I have looked at it again and it’s not bad. It was probably the best bit of football we have played all day. We just slowed things down and I don’t know exactly how many passes were in the move, but it was probably in double figures.
“Ash gave me the ball back and made a great run and I just flicked my left foot at it. Thankfully, it went into his path and he rolled a lovely ball across and Banj made it 2-0.”
While stressing this weekend’s play-off final is a one-off game, to be taken on its own merits, McLaughlin also believes York’s good recent record against the Hatters can only help their cause.
He said: “It will stand us in good stead that we have beaten them before and we know what they are about. That has got to affect them a little bit. They will be worried about us.”