MANSFIELD Town manager Paul Cox was in tears as he met the press after today’s 1-0 BSBP play-off semi-final second leg defeat by York City at the One Call Stadium.
Stags’ promotion hopes were sunk by a Matty Blair goal in the second half of extra-time as a scoreless game seemed to be set for penalties and, hugging his young daughter after the game, Cox said: “I’ve had a good cry.
“That’s just me. I wear my heart on my sleeve and people get what they see.
“I feel gutted for the lads and gutted for the football club. Part of me feels we’ve let everyone down.
“We’ve got to dust ourselves down now and go again.
“A lot of people came out and supported us today and I desperately wanted to win the game for them. I feel I’ve let a lot of people down.
“But there are a lot of boys in there that need picking up, so I can’t sit around feeling sorry for myself.
“It was always going to be fine lines and I said to the lads at half-time, someone is going to be a hero and someone is going to be a villain and we just didn’t have enough in the final third in their box.
“Sometimes we picked up some great positions as well as the set pieces we worked on, we just needed someone to go and tap it in, but give credit to York, over the two legs they just had that bit extra.
“In big games like that, and it was a big game, you need someone to be a hero and I think one goal was always going to win it.
“When they scored the one goal I think the lads were running on empty in the end. We tried our best and have given it a massive shot this season, but you know the big thing about this football club is to bounce back even stronger and go even further next season.
“We will be aiming to do that, but tonight there is a lot of heartache in there. I will be honest and say I personally think we’ve let a few people down.
“I thought the supporters deserved us to have a go at it today. We probably got undone with the goal pushing too many people forward, but we went to try and win it.”
He added: “We have got to look at ourselves and see where things have gone wrong or right this season and put it right for next season.
“The amount of fans who came out and supported the boys today was immense. When I came here there was a bit of a dark cloud hanging over the ground and I think we’ve blown that away. But foundations are only there if you want to build on them and I definitely want to build on them as I don’t like feeling like this.
“I have a fantastic relationship with the chairman and we really want to take this club places. We’ve come up short this season but in other people’s minds we’ve far outweighed expectation.
“I want the club to go forward. I am very ambitious as a person and I think the chairman is too.
Cox’s assistant, Micky Moore, added: “So near and yet so far. Everyone is down from the chairman and the players to the fans.
“There was nothing in it – fine lines. We camped in their half for the last 15 minutes but nothing dropped for us.
“You knew in extra-time one mistake or one bit of magic could win it and we threw the kitchen sink at it.
“It is hard to take at the moment. But once we dust ourselves down and look at it, we have had a fantastic season. The town and supporters have seen these players give everything and they are absolutely heartbroken at then moment.”
Defender Exodus Geohaghon said: “The boys are gutted, They know they gave it their all but unfortunately we’ve lost in extra-time.
“It was all about our final product today, the finish. We had a lot of half-chances but it’s just not happened for us today.”
York now face two Wembley finals in as many weekends with the FA Trophy clash with Newport first.
Delighted boss Gary Mills said: “It’s fantastic to get to Wembley twice, though once there, you still have to win them.
“It is a fantastic stage if you win. Now we have to do that twice.
“I think there were maybe a few doubters that we could come here and get a result today after only drawing at home. But I have never doubted my players for a minute.
“We are a tough side to beat. We don’t concede many and when we lose it has only been by the odd goal.
“The long throws caused a bit of panic at times but we dealt with it and I thought my keeper was excellent today. He came and took a lot of crosses and was on the front foot.
“I was delighted for Matty Blair to score the winner. I don’t think he can believe it.
“He probably didn’t have one of his better games today but the energy of the lad to keep getting in there was fantastic.”