HAMZA Bencherif has admitted it would be a dream to celebrate promotion at Wembley this season, rather than victory in the FA Trophy final serving as a consolation prize again.

The Minstermen kick off their defence of the competition with a home tie against Evo-Stik Northern League premier division part-timers Coalville Town tomorrow.

Bencherif was a member of the City side that beat Macclesfield 3-2 under the world-famous arch in May, just 12 months after also lifting the trophy with Halifax following a 1-0 triumph over Grimsby.

But both occasions came in the wake of relegations form the National League.

The former Algeria under-20 international is now targeting another contest on the hallowed turf but on the back of a happier league campaign, which he insists is the priority as the Minstermen look to climb out of English football’s sixth tier at the first attempt.

He said: “I’ve got good memories of the competition and it’s something I’ve enjoyed during the last couple of seasons, so I’m looking forward to trying to go as far as possible again. I’d take celebrating promotion this season at Wembley instead of what’s happened the last two years.

“That would be a dream, but promotion is the priority this season. I’d have taken that over anything at the start of the season – even something like reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup.”

City will be going into the unknown a little, as they prepare for a first competitive game against Coalville, but Bencherif does have some inside information on the visitors, whose Kyle Dixon made his Notts County debut when the 6ft 3in defender was also plying his trade at Meadow Lane in 2012.

“Coalville is not far from where I am based in Nottingham and I know one of their players Kyle Dixon, who was a tidy central midfielder in the youth team when I was at Notts County,” the 29-year-old centre back revealed. “From what I’ve heard, they’ve got some other good footballers and we will be treating them as seriously as any other team.”

Whilst acknowledging that the 18-point gap to National League North leaders Salford City might now be too difficult to bridge in the battle for one automatic promotion spot, Bencherif has insisted that the sixth-placed Minstermen must look to finish as high as possible in the play-off positions, where a bye into the semi-finals and home advantage is at stake for the teams finishing second and third this term.

As a club, City still haven’t managed to rack up three consecutive victories since April 2014 and Bencherif believes the Trophy game can act as a springboard to finally address that depressing statistic and, in turn, improve the team’s league position

“This is another game to try and get better on the pitch as a team and we need to start winning games in a comfortable manner,” he reasoned. “Clubs are going on runs in the league and, if we want to go forward and finish as high as possible, we need to string some wins together.

“That’s a must now and really, really important. You look at points and the table and have to adjust your targets all the time.

“Where we are now, we just have to try as win as many games as we can and, if that takes us into those top play-off positions, it will be a bonus. But we need to get to a point where teams are scared of us and, then, we will be confident going into the play-offs whatever we have to deal with.”

Having played in front of four different goalkeepers already this term, meanwhile, Bencherif is hoping the back four can now concentrate on building a good understanding with Adam Bartlett, who has been between the sticks for the last two matches following his move from Darlington.

Previously, Jon Worsnop, Luke Simpson and Bailey Peacock-Farrell have all donned the gloves and, on the importance of a regularly-selected net-minder, the ex-Wrexham and Lincoln sentinel pointed out: “Adam’s a very vocal keeper and really confident, which is good to have around you.

“He knows a couple of players and staff from the past, so that’s helped him settle in really well. He’s always lively in the changing room and he’s enjoying it here, while we are enjoying having him behind us.

“We’ve had four keepers this season and have adapted. They’ve all done really well, so there’s no problem with that, but stability is a major thing you need in a team and that comes when you put together a good run of results.”