FORMER York City double Wembley-winning striker Jamie Reed has admitted he never thought he would get another chance to play at Bootham Crescent ahead of returning with new club Ashton United this afternoon.

Reed, now 31, came on as a substitute under the famous arch in the Mintermen’s FA Trophy and Conference play-off final victories on consecutive weekends during the magical month of May 2012.

But a year later, the ex-Wrexham forward had left North Yorkshire and signed for Chester.

Having left the latter in March 2014, he hadn’t plied his trade in the English game for almost five years before being plucked from obscurity by Ashton boss Jody Banim last month.

In between, Reed spent a season in Australia with South Melbourne and went on to turn out for the likes of The New Saints, Aberystwyth Town, Llandudno and Bangor City in the Welsh League, before rupturing his Achilles exactly a year today playing for Newtown.

Without a club and against medical advice, he couldn’t then resist playing in August’s City Legends game and, despite hobbling around the Tadcaster Albion pitch, he scored twice in the event organised by the Supporters’ Trust.

Surprise interest subsequently emerged from Ashton after a brief spell in the Welsh third division, handing Reed the mouth-watering opportunity to be involved in the seventh-last scheduled contest at Bootham Crescent before the stadium is knocked down.

On that prospect, Reed confessed: “I’m really excited. It was the first fixture I looked out for when I signed for Ashton and, weirdly, it will be exactly a year since I ruptured my Achilles playing for Newtown.

“I didn’t think I’d get another chance to play at Bootham Crescent and I thought my career was going to fizzle out because of injury and that I wouldn’t play football again, never mind at this level.

“But I decided, if I was going to do it again, I was going to do it properly and got myself really fit. I scored five goals in three games at a really low level in the Welsh League - just one step up from Sunday morning stuff.

“I then spoke to Jody who invited me in to train and I impressed enough to get signed. My family and friends will be there to watch (today’s game) and, whilst I expect to be on the bench, hopefully I will get on.

“I love York and still visit a lot with my wife and kids. I have a lot of friends in the city who always make me feel welcome and, even though I’m coming back to try to score against their team and put them in an even more precarious position, I’ve still had a lot of supportive messages from York fans.

“The club means a lot to me. It’s the longest I’ve ever played for anybody and it was probably the best period of my career in terms of performances and team accolades but I’m going back to do a job for Ashton United, so it will be a case of mixed emotions.”

Reed insisted that there will be no place for sentiment, though, come 3pm with third-bottom Ashton bidding for the victory that would close the gap on their hosts to four points, having played two games fewer.

“In an ideal world, I’d like both clubs to stay up, but I play for Ashton, so I can’t really care about who stays up as long as we do,” he explained. “As a striker, I also want to score another goal at Bootham Crescent and I’ll celebrate if I do because, having seen what happened to Emiliano Sala, you never know when your last goal will be.

“But there are ways of celebrating and I would keep things respectful.”

Reed plundered 25 goals in 85 games for City and still has fond memories of many of his strikes at the cherished, 87-year-old arena.

“All the Luton games stand out and I liked scoring against them,” he smiled. “The first time I played against them I scored, and we beat them 1-0 and I also scored in the FA Trophy semi-final.

“Another match that was special for me was when I scored twice against Mansfield to help us come back and win 2-1. That kickstarted my career at York really and made me feel at home.”

With ex-Wembley team-mates Paddy McLaughlin, Dan Parslow and Adriano Moke all currently on the books at his old club, Reed went on to express his surprise at the side’s sixth-tier struggles, saying: “They’re all good players who have played at good levels, but there has been a lot of disappointment over the last few years and it’s disappointing for myself because, when I speak to the other lads from that 2012 era, we know how hard we worked to get the club back into the Football League, only for things to unravel so quickly.”

Ashton, meanwhile, will visit North Yorkshire having claimed back-to-back victories and clean sheets for the first time this term, picking up crucial 1-0 victories against relegation rivals Nuneaton and FC United of Manchester.

The games – Reed’s first since joining the Robins – have also seen him introduced from the bench and he has been suitably encouraged by the team’s standards, while revelling in the chance to test himself back in England.

“If you keep clean sheets, then you always have a chance of pushing on and I think we have looked pretty solid at the back in the last two games, despite the reports I’d heard before,” Reed declared. “Things seem to have been shored up.

“A couple of new lads have been brought in and we’ve got a good, young keeper (on-loan Burnley 18-year-old George McMahon) who I certainly like the look of. We only train twice a week, but it’s nice to be back in proper football, because the Welsh League has more of a European edge to it and is more tactical and slower, with nine out of the 12 teams having 3G pitches.

“You don’t get as much time on the ball in the Conference or this division, but the intensity is high and it’s a bit of a roller coaster, which is what I think football is all about.”

Reed’s day-time job, meanwhile, sees him act as a Liverpool-based financial planner for professional footballers up to Championship level.

It is a line of work that he first got involved in during his spell Down Under, where one of South Melbourne’s directors owned a company in the industry.

On the importance of his vocation outside of the game, Reed added: “Full-time football is great but, at the levels I’ve played, it won’t support your family for the rest of your life, and I didn’t want to be playing professionally at 32 or 33 without anything set up for the future. Going part-time was definitely the right decision as, with the injury I’ve just had, my family wouldn’t have survived financially whilst I was out of contract.”

Elsewhere, David Mirfin heads The Press Player of the Month standings for February.

Mirfin won our man-of-the-match award following the 3-2 win at Alfreton to collect three points towards the standings.

He also received the two bonus points on offer after receiving the most man-of-the-match votes from our online Twitter poll.

The other Press points went to Jordan Burrow (two) and Sean Newton (one) as our second and third-highest rated performers respectively.

Wes York, meanwhile, picked up three points as our star man during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Hereford.

The Press’ other points went to Alex Kempster (two) and Josh Law (one). Kempster was rewarded with the two bonus points after heading the internet poll.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Bartlett 26, Burrow 24, Griffiths 21, Wright 14, Moke 11, Ferguson 9, Heslop 9, Penn 9, Tait 9, York 9, Bray 8, Newton 8, Parkin 6, Kempster 5, Langstaff 5, Allan 4, Davis 4, Agnew 3, Bencherif 3, Digie 3, Dyer 3, Harris 3, Law 3, Mirfin 3, Burgess 2, Hawkins 2, McAughtrie 1, Parslow 1.

The Press Player of the Month standings for February: Mirfin 5, Kempster 4, York 3, Burrow 2, Law 1, Newton 1.

Goals: Burrow 15, Langstaff 5, Wright 5, Newton 4, Kempster 3, Parkin 3, Bencherif 2, Ferguson 2, Harris 2, Moke 2, Tait 2, York 2, Bray 1, Hawkins 1, Heslop 1.

Assists: Burrow 9, Harris 5, Ferguson 4, Langstaff 4, Law 4, Wright 4, Parkin 3, Bray 3, Bartlett 2, Griffiths 2, Allan 1, Agnew 1, Digie 1, Dyer 1, Hawkins 1, Heslop 1, Kempster 1, Newton 1, Tait 1, York 1.

Discipline: Wright eight yellow cards; Heslop seven yellow; Newton five yellow; Bencherif, Griffiths both four yellow; Tait one red, two yellow; Davis, Moke both three yellow; Law two yellow; Penn one red, one yellow; Bray one red; Allan, Ferguson, Hawkins, Kempster, Langstaff, McAughtrie, York all one yellow.