FA Trophy Final
North Ferriby United v Wrexham
Sunday 29th March 2015 ; KO 1.30 pm
So it is to Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the FA Trophy Final and the biggest game in Ferriby’s history. For many of those associated with Ferriby, it probably did not really sink in until last Saturday after the game at Brackley. As Manager Billy Heath said, “Now that’s out of the way, the next game is at Wembley!”
Former Football League Wrexham stands between The Villagers and glory. The Welsh club is celebrating its 150th season but Ferriby will be determined to rain on their party.
Indeed, The Villagers will be looking for a celebration of their own as the Final is Billy Heath and Mark Carroll’s 700th game as a managerial team.
Conference National Wrexham will start as favourites but Ferriby have shown little regard for reputations over the years. Wrexham are having a mixed season with 13 wins and 12 draws in their 38 league games. They have scored 41 goals and conceded 45.
Wrexham were at Wembley as recently as 2013 when they beat Grimsby 4-1 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. However, their team has changed markedly since then and most of their players have no experience of Wembley. To reach this year’s Final they have beaten Southport, Stockport, Gateshead, FC Halifax and Torquay.
Wrexham’s danger-man is top scorer Louis Moult who has 13 goals this season. Interestingly, they have all come in league games. Fellow striker Andy Bishop has hit eight altogether, five of them coming in cup ties. Wrexham are hoping that strike Wes York and defender Blaine Hudson will be fit, though neither figured in the midweek defeat at Nuneaton. In that game, Wrexham fielded a strong side rather than choosing to rest players.
Ferriby join Tamworth and Forest Green Rovers as only the third team to play in both the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals, though some would argue that Hillingdon should be added to that list. Should they win, they would be the first former FA Vase finalists to do so.
Ferriby go in to the game with just two defeats in the last 18 games. The team has been playing with confidence, especially in recent weeks and they have been getting close to their normal flair and ability.
The Vanarama Conference North play-offs are probably just out of reach but that is not going to detract from what has been another tremendous season for The Villagers.
There is a belief in the Ferriby camp that they are more than capable of beating Wrexham but the players know they will have to give one of their best ever performances if they are to do that.
With only eight league defeats, The Villagers have shown that they are a difficult side to beat. The players have a wonderful spirit and attitude to the game and have developed a knack of scoring late goals. They refuse to give-up even if things are not quite happening on the pitch, as sometimes happens to the best of teams.
Many will think that Wrexham’s full-time professionals will have the edge over part-time Ferriby. However, that would be to underestimate the professionalism that runs through not only the team but also through the whole club. The Final is a moment to be savoured by all those connected with the club.
As central defender Gregg Anderson commented, “This is why you play football. This is why you graft all the way through the week, train Tuesday, train Thursday and play Saturday.
“Forty weeks of the year your life is dedicated to non-league football. This is probably the biggest reward a player can get.”
The final pre-match training session will be at West Ham United’s training ground on Saturday morning. As Chairman Les Hare says, “It’s a nice piece of reciprocation as West ham trained at our ground prior to a recent game against Hull City.”
Hull City’s nutritionist has provided advice as to what the players should be eating and when. This is important given that the clocks go forward on Saturday night and the fact that the game kicks-off at 1.30pm.
Heath commented, “There will be nobody prouder than me when I lead out the team on Sunday. I enjoyed playing for this club and to be able to manage it in a Wembley Final is just unbelievable.
“It’s a huge game for everybody at the club, the players, the Chairman,, committee and staff. The response of the players since the semi-final has been tremendous as they have all wanted to make a claim to be in the final squad.
“I want the players to play the match and not the occasion. We have to make sure we put a performance on. We know we will have to be at, or close to, our best form if we are to win. Wrexham will obviously start as favourites but we showed last season that we are capable of beating Conference National teams. However, nobody is expecting us to win and that puts all the pressure on Wrexham.
Heath is taking his full squad to Wembley and those who do not play will be sitting there cheering on their team-mates. With the exception of the injured Danny Emerton and Curtis Bateson who is ineligible, Heath has his full squad to choose from. Selecting the starting 11 and the five substitutes will probably be the most difficult decision of Heath’s managerial career. Whoever he chooses, some players are going to be left disappointed as they will not get an opportunity to play.
NFU from: Adam Nicklin, Tom Nicholson, Sam Topliss, Nathan Peat, Louis Bruce, Josh Wilde, Mark Gray, Gregg Anderson, Matt Wilson, Danny Hone, Adam Bolder, Liam King, Jon D’Laryea, Russ Fry, Tom Denton, Nathan Jarman, Ryan Kendall, Jason St Juste, Danny Clarke, Tim Taylor