Heath keen to use Wembley win as catalyst for more success

AS Sunday’s FA Trophy final proved so gloriously, North Ferriby United never know when they are beaten.

North Ferriby's players and manager Billy Heath celebrate winning the FA Trophy at Wembley on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Two goals down to a former Football League club with just 15 minutes remaining, the part-timers from East Yorkshire responded with a quite sensational comeback that will be spoken about for years to come.

Even the disappointment of being pegged back themselves so late in extra-time after forging a 3-2 lead could not deflate the Villagers, who went on to hold their nerve amid the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a penalty shoot-out.

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So, when North Ferriby manager Billy Heath suggests the Conference North play-offs are still on despite a 10-point deficit having to be made up, it is worth taking note.

“We have seven games left and we really need to win all seven,” admitted Heath, who celebrated his 700th game in management at Wembley.

“But it can’t do us any harm to have done what we did at Wembley. The (Sunday) night was to be enjoyed and then we are back in for training on Tuesday night. We can then look forward to our game on Saturday.

“Hopefully, the win at Wembley can help propel us a bit further and this season we can try to get in the play-offs. Then, next season we will see where we are.”

North Ferriby, whose annual turnover this term is expected to be around £250,000, pocketed a welcome £50,000 in prize money for winning at Wembley.

It was a timely boost to the Church Road coffers, with chairman Les Hare having revealed ahead of Wembley that the costs involved with staying in the capital from Friday would leave the club “lucky to break even”.

Sunday’s dramatic triumph, though, was about a lot more than money with the manner of how Wrexham, who yesterday sacked manager Kevin Wilkin, were seen off having won the Villagers a host of new admirers.

The lifting of silverware also continued an upwards trajectory that has seen the club make giant strides – and win promotion to Conference North – since Heath took charge late in 2011.

“This club has been on a steep rise,” said the 44-year-old manager. “We just missed out on (winning) the league last season. Literally on the final day.

“Hopefully, this win at Wembley can propel us a little bit further. The chairman is desperate to get in the Conference, which will be difficult for a club of our size and the financial side.

“Hopefully, we can attract one or two players for next season because of this.”

North Ferriby, ninth in the table, sit 10 points adrift of Boston United in the final play-off place but the East Riding club do have two games in hand.

Saturday’s return to league combat will be at home to Chorley, who are level on points with Boston but have played one game less. The Villagers’ run-in also includes trips to leaders Barrow and third-placed Guiseley, which is why a late dash for the top five may yet be on.

To do so, United will have to overcome the odds. But, as Heath points out, that is exactly what happened at Wembley.

“We were big underdogs,” he said. “But I kept telling the players if they believed enough, we’d have a chance.

“At 2-0 down, it probably didn’t look that way as the game seemed to be slipping through our grasp. But the boys have this unbelievable desire and spirit. Once we got the goal, there only looked as if there would be one winner. Once at penalties, it is all about who holds their nerve.”