Aidy Boothroyd admitted he was preparing himself ‘a few drinks’ after leading the Cobblers to the npower League Two play-off final with a professional victory over Cheltenham.
The Northampton manager led his side to a 1-0 win in the second leg at Whaddon Road, Luke Guttridge’s excellent volley ensuring the result was a mirror of the one at Sixfields, in which Roy O’Donovan’s goal was the difference.
All of which means the team will now play Bradford City at Wembley on May 18 for the right to be promoted to league one, and while Boothroyd will toast the achievement with a couple of drinks he is fully aware nothing has been won yet.
“We stood up to what they had to offer and we’re obviously delighted to be going to Wembley, we want to win it now,” he said.
“I’m really thrilled for everybody that works at the club and supports the club and it was important we played the game and not the occasion.
“We’ll have a few drinks now but we know it’s going to be a tough game against Bradford, because like Cheltenham they have beaten us twice.”
Hearts were in mouths on the Northampton bench when Ben Tozer sloppily conceded a penalty after only half an hour of the game on Sunday, clipping Russell Penn in the box after his clearance had been charged down.
Marlon Pack saw his spot-kick superbly saved by Town keeper Lee Nicholls, and shortly afterwards they were ahead through Guttridge’s goal.
Boothroyd conceded the tackle was rash but praised Nicholls for keeping the penalty out and going on to produce a commanding performance that saw him named Sky Sports’ man of the match and earn comparisons from his manager with an England international.
“It was a penalty,” said Boothroyd. “It was rash and sometimes in these games sensible players who are normally very very trustworthy do daft things.
“That’s what Ben did unfortunately. He’s been one of our best players this season but he was a bit rash and he got what he deserved.
“We were prepared for what would happen at the penalty and Lee (Nicholls) was outstanding all night. I was lucky enough to coach Ben Foster and I think he’s every bit as good as he is.”
The players were embraced by their supporters on the pitch after the game and although the squad were mindful that there remains a job to do at Wembley, it did not prevent a carnival atmosphere in the away end at Whaddon Road.
“Our supporters were fantastic and they outsang the Cheltenham fans from the first minute to the last,” said Boothroyd.
“It was a very nervous time and we were biting our fingernails on the bench but thankfully we gave them something to shout about.”