Grimsby Town Wembley-bound but Paul Hurst urges players to now focus on league
GRIMSBY Town reached Wembley for the fourth time in the club’s history – but joint boss Paul Hurst urged his players to forget about it for a month.
The Mariners were organised, disciplined and resolute as they confirmed their place in this season’s FA Trophy final with a goalless draw at Dartford on Saturday.
Leading 3-0 from the first leg, Town never looked in real danger after weathering an early storm from their hosts.
And at the full-time whistle, the players celebrated the achievement with more than 800 Mariners fans who had made the long trip south.
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Hurst and co-manager Rob Scott were understandably pleased as they prepare to lead their side out against Wrexham on Sunday, March 24. But they also remain mindful of the league challenges ahead – beginning tomorrow night against Ebbsfleet United – after their cup exploits saw them slip to fourth in the Conference table.
“We’re delighted for the players and for everyone connected to the club that we’ve got a trip to Wembley to look forward to,” Hurst told the Telegraph.
“Our fans were very noisy on Saturday, as you would expect for a semi-final, and they can all book their hotels and start arranging tickets now.
“It’s something we’re really going to look forward to, but it’s back to the league tomorrow night.
“That’s what really matters because that’s the next game and there are far more league games to worry about than just one final.”
Hurst, who played at ‘old’ Wembley for Rotherham United in the 1996 Auto Windscreens Shield final, continued: “At the same time, I don’t want to play down the achievements of the players.
“We stated from the off that we wanted to get to the final. We’ve done that, and when it comes around we’ll want to win it.
“It’s not just about going for the day out because we’ll remember it much more fondly if we come away winners.
“In the meantime, our attentions quickly move on to the league.”
Having crashed to their first defeat since November at Braintree last week, Hurst believes the players are now fully focused on the number one priority – a Football League return.
“Even the celebrations on Saturday were a little bit muted – it wasn’t like when you see a big cup upset and people are dancing around the changing room,” he added.
“That’s credit to the players. They realise they are fighting on more than one front and they seem very balanced about it.
“I’m sure there will be a bit of banter flying about, but they are very pleased for each other. Myself and Rob certainly feel that they deserve this.
“You only get that from working hard, and on Saturday it was back to the players working extremely hard for each other, putting their bodies on the line when there were scrambles and seeing the job through.
“I’m sure leading the team out at Wembley will be great. Perhaps it hasn’t quite sunk in, but also I want us to get back to winning ways in the league after the disappointment of last Tuesday.
“It’s Ebbsfleet and a lot of people will think we just need to turn up. We know that won’t be the case. They’ve come into a little bit of form and are feeling better about their prospects so it won’t be easy.
“After Saturday, we’ve got to make sure the players are grounded – I’m sure they will be – and get back to winning ways in the league.”