WILL HAYHURST’S current employers and parent club may have plenty to do in the play-offs, but he for one isn’t discounting a dual celebration come late tomorrow night.
It’s the business end of the season for both York City, where the 20-year-old has been on loan at since late January and his seniors at Preston, level pegging at 1-1 heading into tonight’s crunch League One second-leg at Rotherham United.
The Minstermen have their own date with destiny across the other side of the Pennines at Fleetwood Town 24 hours later in the second instalment of their play-off semi-final, a level down in League Two.
For Hayhurst, born in the Preston supporting town of Longridge, the perfect scenario would be the Roses play-off honours to be shared with North End and the Minstermen victorious and Wembley-bound.
But expect the Millers and Fleetwood to have plenty to say about that, with both well placed ahead of the second legs.
On a big few nights, Hayhurst said: “It’s a great end of season. Preston have done fantastically and I believe they can go all the way as York can.
“I will be rooting for Preston and hopefully they can do the job and that we can the next day.
“These games are great to be a part of. You don’t want to be ending up mid-table or bottom of the league, you want to be fighting for trophies and promotion and Wembley,” he said.
York have plenty of work to do to earn a fifth trip to the home of football in as many years after their 1-0 home loss on Monday.
The visitors were good value for their victory, thanks to a goal from ex-Minstermen favourite Matty Blair, on a night when York struggled for attacking potency.
If there was a saving grace, it’s that the deficit that Nigel Worthington’s side face when they step out at the Highbury Stadium is just a single goal, with the Cod Army spurning the chances to arguably put the tie beyond City.
Hayhurst himself is consoled by how York upped the ante in the final half-hour, when they at least showed more endeavour and it will take plenty of that – and a bit more besides – if City are to write another chapter in what has proved an enduring story since the turn of last year.
In itself, the league game at Fleetwood on February 1 was highly significant as it represented the start of York’s majestic 17-match unbeaten run which propelled them from potential relegation candidates to firm play-off contenders.
That 2-1 victory provided them with the momentum to kick on at a searing pace for the rest of the regular season.
Something resembling a re-run is required tomorrow evening, but given that York boast an unbeaten away record stretching back eight matches and over three-and-a-half months, they are not without hope as they head west.
Hayhurst said: “We’re disappointed our (17-game) run ended and that most of all, we lost. But we still believe as a team we can go there and get a result.
“We’re confident going there. I think we play better when we go away, so we believe we are still in it by a long shot. It’s only 1-0 and we feel we can go there and get a great win.
“We started our great run there and will take that confidence there and we will try and play like we know we can and get the result to turn it around.
“We have put in all that effort in after Christmas and need one more big push now. We don’t want to go out at this stage after working so hard.”