Matty Dolan says the Newport County AFC squad have the confidence to go and triumph at Wembley in this season’s League Two play-off final.
Against all odds, County climbed a huge mountain to even get into the play-offs following an amazing Emirates FA Cup run earlier this season, but now they’re in the final after a penalty shootout victory at Mansfield Town on Sunday evening.
Dolan was the man to hold his nerve and dispatch the fifth and final penalty as the Exiles won 5-3 with Tyler Walker seeing his spot kick saved by Day.
The game itself in Nottinghamshire was absolutely superb as both sides gave everything to the cause in one of the best 0-0 draws you will ever see.
Including extra time, it was 120 minutes of scintillating football which included County hitting the crossbar on three occasions – Scot Bennett taking aim from 40 yards and coming mighty close, Joss Labadie powering a header against it and Ben Turner turning a cross back towards his own goal.
Hero from Thursday’s fixture, Stags goalkeeper Conrad Logan also pulled off a magnificent save to deny a curling attempt from Sheehan, while Padraig Amond hit the side netting from close range.
At the other end, Mansfield couldn’t create as many gilt-edged opportunities in-front of their own supporters but still had their chances, mostly in extra time.
CJ Hamilton and Walker both should have done better when found free inside the penalty area, while Walker and Danny Rose both flashed headers wide when they should have been on target.
A stalemate took it to penalties and it was County’s evening in Nottinghamshire as they stunned the bookies favourites on their own patch to get to Wembley.
Here, you can read what Dolan exclusively told iFollow Exiles following the conclusion of the game…
On having the nerve to take the fifth and final penalty…
"My old man [Gary Dolan] won’t be happy because he always tells me to not take the fifth penalty.
"But I was pretty settled. I had my partner and all my family right behind me in the crowd and others watching at home.
"It was nice to slot it away, but I always backed myself, wanted the fifth and now it’s a nice bit of history for us.
"We practised penalties in the last couple of days, the lads normally have a go at me because I usually mess about in the penalty taking, but when it’s serious, I’ll be serious and slot it away.
"To score a goal to get the club to Wembley is up there and probably the best in my career.
"I just took the penalty like I would any other, regardless of the situation we were in.
"It was very nice and obviously nice to see everyone with a smile on their face. Let’s get to Wembley and finish the job."
On the overall performance against Mansfield Town…
"It was fantastic. To a man, the boys were a credit to the football club. You could name whoever you wanted out there – Mark O’Brien was solid at the back as was the whole backline, I could literally go through the whole team.
"But I’ll give a special mention to Josh Sheehan who I thought was fantastic in the middle alongside Benno and Labz.
"The boys were brilliant, and we got what we deserved as a football club. That’s what 12 unbeaten gets you.
"We said we wanted to come here and make sure we didn’t end the season on a flat note. Our season continues now, and we’ll look to go finish the job at Wembley.
"The worry is that if you’re not creating the chances and not hitting the crossbar. We peppered it, kept going, countless chances and on another day, we could have been three or four up.
"It wasn’t to be so we had to do it the hard way like we have all season."
On the 1,118 away supporters…
"For a Sunday at 6pm with no trains back to Newport, no travel, they deserve a special mention because they’ve been behind us all season and in every game.
"They’ve been behind us all the way and we’ve all achieved a special moment in this club’s history. But we’re not done yet, we want to go and make sure we finish the job.
"The message is simply to get behind us. We’ve given them a rollercoaster ride and they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin."
On County getting to Wembley for the fourth time in seven years…
"I think the boys have been a credit all season. 62 games now for the season and we deserve to be at Wembley.
"We don’t just want to be at Wembley for the sake of being there, we want to win. We don’t want our season to go on this long and finish in a bad way.
"I’m sure the whole of Newport will be behind us and we’ll make sure we finish the job.
"We’ve got a lot of confidence and we’ll do things right from now until Wembley.
"It’s important we don’t let the occasion get the better of us. We’ve played in big games this season so let’s make sure it’s another big result.
"The boys have been fantastic for 61 games before this. A lot of hard work has gone into it since pre-season from everyone at the football club.
"It’s what we deserve. But we don’t want it to stop now."
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