Playing for hometown club Mansfield Town at Wembley will mean the world to James Perch

Mansfield Town star James Perch said reaching Wembley meant the world to him as he looks forward to playing for his hometown club in the League Two play-off final a week on Saturday

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 10:56 pm

Stags completed a 3-1 aggregate win over Northampton Town at Sixfields tonight to book their place and Perch said after tonight's 1-0 win: “It is brilliant and it means so much to us as players, the fans, the club, people around Mansfield. It means the world.

“We have put in a right shift there over two games and got the reward.

“We knew it was going to be a battle coming to Northampton. They sling the ball in from everywhere, but I think we were immense defensively. Not just as a back four but as a team. It was a great all-round team performance.

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Match action from tonight's win at Northamoton. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger

“And Bish was brilliant in goal tonight – commanding. He has been good for us all season. He is top class and no wonder he is at Manchester United. He's there for a reason.

It was massive to get the goal tonight but, looking back, we didn't need it in the end. It put a dagger into them, killed them a bit and knocked the stuffing out of them.

“That's what we came to do. The gaffer sets us up to score goals on the front foot.”

He added: “It was crazy in the dressing room afterwards. There was a lot of shouting and singing and the chairman came in which was nice and shook everyone's hands.”

Stags were second to bottom earlier in the season but Perch said the squad always felt they could turn the season round.

“We always believed what the gaffer was telling us was right,” he said.

“We knew when got out players back fit we could go on runs like we have this season, break records and get up the table. We knew we were good enough as a squad.”

Perch's personal season has been massive ups and downs too after he fractured his skull in training and was told his season was over, possibly his career.

“I am absolutely delighted. One minute I am going to retire, then I got the good news I could play again,” he said.

“I came back, credit to the medical staff, the gaffer and his staff and the players and fans have been great with me and given me great support.

“The fans have been brilliant all season and I can't thank them enough.

Perch and the rest of the squad are now planning to enjoy a few days of celebration and relaxation.

“We have nine or 10 days to the final,” he said.

“The gaffer is taking us out tomorrow for some food and a drink.

“We will relax and get back down to reality. We can't let it overtake us. We know we have a few days we can enjoy ourselves.

“But when next week comes we are back to work.

“A big shout out to Forest too – we have two Nottinghamshire clubs in the finals on the same weekend.”