After sealing the win on penalties against Newport County in last night’s Leasing.com Trophy Semi-Final, Salford City will return to Wembley in April looking to get their hands on the trophy for the very first time.
There was nothing to separate the two sides in South Wales, as Salford resisted a dominant second-half performance from Newport, meaning penalties were required. The best way to win and the worst way to lose some say, and manager Graham Alexander admitted to feeling the emotion on the night.
"I don’t think you’d be human if you weren’t feeling the emotion of the occasion tonight, especially heading into a penalty shootout,” he said speaking to Salford City after last night’s game.
“But it’s about controlling those emotions and that’s something I thought the players did really well.”
Confidence was key for Salford in the shootout, who scored their first four penalties, going on to win 6-5 overall.
"We briefly spoke about the game going to penalties,” Alexander continued. "But it was about the players stepping up and having the courage to do what they did. For me if a penalty crosses the line, it’s a good penalty! So tonight we took six good penalties and I was really pleased.
"It was a hard fought game on a difficult pitch, we had to do the basics right and not make mistakes. We wanted to be disciplined against a good side tonight."
It’s been less than a year since Salford's last visit to the National Stadium for last season’s Play-Off Final, and last night marked another significant moment in the club’s history, reaching the final of the Leasing.com Trophy on their debut season in the EFL.
The Sky Bet League Two Play-Offs are not out of reach with 12 league games to go either, and Alexander says his side will take confidence from reaching the final.
"You’ve got to take confidence from winning games,” he said. "I think we’ve been in relatively good form the last six or seven games. We changed the team around a little bit tonight but the players came in and showed what they can do which is what you want as a manager - a healthy, competitive squad.
"The fans were superb as well, to come all the way down to Newport on a Wednesday night. I know they were excited about the game, supporters had been speaking to me in the build up about the potential of getting to Wembley, so we’re all really happy for them. They follow us all over the country in numbers and we’re delighted to win tonight.”
And with a Wembley date now booked in the diary, Alexander wants to go all the way.
"I think it’s really important to emphasise that getting to Wembley isn’t the prize. The prize is going to Wembley and winning. We’ve got one more game to achieve what we want to do in this competition, and we’re delighted to give the supporters and the players the opportunity to go and show people what we can do at Wembley again."