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League Two

Graham Alexander wants side to finish job

17 May 2014

Graham Alexander led Fleetwood to a Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final at Wembley and then challenged them to make history by achieving their sixth promotion in 10 seasons.

The Cod Army, reformed for the second time in 1997, beat York 1-0 on aggregate - following Friday night's 0-0 draw at Highbury - and now have the chance to enter uncharted waters by reaching the third tier of English football.

That is where the likes of Preston, who Alexander played for over 350 times, and Sheffield United will be competing next season but the ambitious outfit from the north-west coast have the financial backing befitting a club at such a level.

After missing out on a top-three spot, Fleetwood now have the chance to join promoted sides Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Rochdale in League One, a berth Alexander insists they deserve.

"I'm really happy - to get to Wembley is the next step that we wanted to take, it's not the goal, it's not the target, but it's the next step," the former Scotland international said.

"York made it hard for us for a nil-nil. It was end-to-end and a proper play-off game and we're pleased we got there."

The hosts had to weather considerable storms to record their second straight clean sheet, meaning Matty Blair's goal four days ago in Yorkshire settled the semi-final over the two legs.

Fleetwood's man of the match was central defender Nathan Pond, who is in his testimonial year and has been with the team for each of their previous five promotions.

"When it came down to the crunch the defenders and the goalkeeper were fantastic over the two legs, especially tonight," added Alexander.

"It was one for men and that's what we saw out there."

Alexander's side have been close to glory this season and not only narrowly missed out on automatic promotion, but also on a previous Wembley final when they were defeated by Chesterfield in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy area final.

"We deserve to put ourselves in the final because we were the fourth team in the league and highest placed in the play-offs," argued Alexander.

"It doesn't give you anything but for us, finishing just behind the top three, we deserved it. We earned it over 180 minutes against York and now we've got a very tough game against whoever gets through to the final."

Burton and Southend are the other two sides in the semi-finals, with the former leading 1-0 from the first leg at home.

The Minstermen failed to find the net in the tie's 180 minutes but their manager Nigel Worthington admitted his troops gave everything in an open contest.

"I thought it was a tremendous effort from start to finish," he said.

"The energy, commitment - they never stopped. That's the type of group we've had and as the manager of the football club I'm very proud of them.

"Not just tonight, they've done that all season. To come away to a very good side and put on a show like that you've got to be proud. Credit to them."

Although York failed to carve out any clear-cut chances they enjoyed large spells of possession and territorial advantage, yet came up short against a resolute home defence led by Pond.

Worthington continued: "There were many half chances tonight when the ball was in and around the box but it's just got to fall to you. Sometimes you've got to make that; that's about better finishing and being sharper. But Fleetwood are a good side and I wish them well in the final.

"It's disappointing at the moment but you've got to get over that, dust yourself down and get ready for the new season once we've had a holiday."

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