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FA Trophy: Wembley joy for jubilant York City boss
YORK City manager Gary Mills admitted there was nothing to match the feeling of reaching Wembley after seeing his side book their place in the final of the FA Trophy.
Matty Blair’s 90th-minute goal secured a May 12 meeting with Newport County at the world-famous stadium after Robbie Willmott had levelled the scores 1-1 on aggregate in the first half of Saturday’s semi-final, second leg at Kenilworth Road.
Victory means the club have already made £42,000 in prize money from their exploits in this season’s competition.
A further £50,000 is available to the tournament winners and £25,000 will go to the runners-up with the overall value to the club of reaching Wembley, including television income, gate receipts and commercial revenue, estimated at £200,000.
A delighted Mills said: “It means everything and feels great to get to the final of such a prestigious competition at Wembley – it really does. There is no other feeling like it.
“From scoring with the last kick against Solihull in the first round to force a replay, we have worked very hard to get there and I know what it means to the football club financially.
“There was a lot riding on Saturday’s game. A lot of players never get to Wembley and I’m also pleased for my mate (assistant manager) Darron (Gee) who took Tamworth to the Trophy final as manager but it was while the stadium was being rebuilt so the game was played at Villa Park.”
The final will represent the third time City have played at the national stadium in four seasons, following defeats to Stevenage in the 2009 Trophy final and against Oxford in the Conference play-offs 12 months later.
Mills is now determined to erase those painful memories, saying: “I’ve led a team out at Wembley when I was at Leicester and I got injured. I couldn’t play and Brian Little said he wanted me to lead the team out against Derby in the play-off final, which was fair play to him. To do it as the manager of my own team will be very special though.
“York have been there a couple of times in recent years and lost and I want to go there now and win. We will be playing Newport and there should be a few supporters from both teams there.
“If you look at the table then we will be favourites but it’s different in a one-off game. Cardiff proved that when they pushed Liverpool all the way in the Carling Cup final.
“We won’t be going into it saying we are the favourites and will need to be at our best to go and win the Trophy.”
The City chief added he remained confident his team could go through at Kenilworth Road even when they trailed during the second leg at the interval.
He said: “It was always going to be a tough semi-final but, over the two legs, I thought we deserved to go through. We were second best in the first half on Saturday when they were winning a lot of second balls and dictating the play.
“We were not holding the ball up in the final third of the pitch and it was very difficult. To be honest, after 40 minutes, I was happy to be drawing 0-0 because they’d had two or three chances.
“We then went into half-time a goal down but I stressed to the players that we were all level in terms of the tie and that one goal would still take us through and I always thought it would come.”
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