A devastated Mattie Moffatt has challenged West Auckland to come back stronger after the Northern League outfit suffered their second FA Vase final defeat in three seasons.
Marvin McLean’s 71st minute strike was enough to give Southampton-based Sholing victory at Wembley and end the Northern League’s domination in the competition after a five-year winning streak.
West were looking to add to their illustrious history of being the first team to win the World Cup and make it third time lucky at Wembley, but despite creating several chances throughout the game, Peter Dixon’s men fell short again.
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Moffatt, who recovered from a fractured cheekbone sustained in the semi-final to take his place in the starting XI just like he did two years ago, was part of the side that lost to fellow Northern League side Dunston UTS, and the striker admitted losing again was hard to take.
“I thought we played well and had the better chances,” the striker said. “It was a deflection for their goal so it is hard to take. We’re devastated to lose. Being a West Auckland boy, I just wanted to do it for the fans, my family and friends. To lose it twice in three years is really hard.”
Former Darlington striker John Campbell missed a glorious chance to put West ahead in the fifth minute, while Moffatt also blazed over from close range after the break. Sholing keeper Matt Brown also made some excellent saves to deny Robbie Briggs and Denis Knight in particular.
Moffatt said: “The chance I had in the second half - I took it down perfectly but I just seemed to snatch at it.
“Maybe I saw the glory before I hit it but it’s one of those things. We still had plenty chances and it sums it up that their keeper got man-of-the-match. Coming here twice and not scoring a goal is hard to take because we’ve got a lot of goals in us.”
And having made great strides since Dixon took over, Moffatt is confident Saturday’s final won’t be the last Wembley sees of the club.
He said: “We’ve got to stick together, move on and hopefully it will make us stronger next season. It would be nice to make it here again and if we did come back I would always fancy us to finish the job.
“It’s a big stage. To play at Wembley is massive. It’s hard to describe how we’re feeling because I thought we were the best team. We need to come back stronger.
“If we all stick together and maybe add one or two to the squad then we shouldn’t be to far away next season.
“If we make it to Wembley it would be unbelievable. To lose it twice is hard but I’m sure it will bring us together for next season.”