JOINT York Minster Engineering League representatives’ manager Chris Smith admitted he was “gutted” to lose the FA Inter-League Cup final.

But the Osbaldwick boss has challenged the team to bounce back from the disappointment of a 4-2 defeat at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and win the competition next year.

Old Malton St Mary’s midfielder Scott Nicholas opened the scoring from the penalty spot for the York side, before goals from Anton Buchan and Stuart Rose turned the tables at the Championship stadium.

Chris Dyson then levelled the scores in spectacular fashion and crashed another effort against the bar, before Matthew McQueeney went on to secure victory with two strikes – the second in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

Defeat also represented a double blow for the Minster outfit as winners North Riding, who were beaten in the first round and semi-finals of the tournament before earning reprieves due to opposition rule infringements, now go on to represent England in the European Championships.

Expressing mixed emotions in defeat, Smith admitted: “I’m absolutely gutted with the result but, performance wise, the lads gave their all in red-hot conditions. We couldn’t ask any more from them but, unfortunately on the day, we didn’t quite get over the line.

“At 2-2, Chris Dyson had a tremendous shot that hit the bar and Jamie Willstrop had a great chance cutting in from the left as well, so it was a case of fine lines, but I’m really proud of the lads. We’ve been on a great journey and, without being bitter, we fully deserved to be in the final.

“The lads have done unbelievably well and, after we put together what we thought was a good team, they’ve proven to be a very good team. All the lads have got to be proud of what they’ve done and, even though they are naturally gutted at losing a massive cup final, they’ve got to walk away with a smile on their faces and celebrate what they’ve achieved in putting York on the football map, then come back stronger and win it next year.”

Smith’s fellow joint-manager Simon Wood, of Tadcaster Magnets, agreed that the game’s turning point came at 2-2, reasoning: “I thought we responded really well to going behind just after half-time and, at 2-2, we were opening them up.

“If we could have got one more goal, it would have changed the whole complexion of the game and I think we’d have gone on to get more.”

Smith went on to declare that both coaches felt Dyson’s equaliser would have graced any match, regardless of the level.

“Simon turned to me when it went in and said ‘that is as good a goal as you could see here at pro level’ and I think he’s right,” Smith added.

Former York City community coach Wood is now hoping the side’s success this term will encourage more players to get involved with the reps’ team, given the potential national and international exposure it can bring.

“Hopefully, we can build on this experience and it will open up the reps’ team to a few more players as well,” Wood explained. “We want people who want to play for this team and the lads in this squad have come to us with that attitude.

“We’d now like to see all the players in the league strive to get into the team and enjoy occasions like this to show what they can do.”

With a large number of the 314 crowd travelling from York, Smith said: “I’d like to thank all the support that came to watch us. They were really loud and totally outnumbered their supporters.”