“A DREAM come true” is how Nathan Mulligan described Stockton Town’s FA Vase semi-final win, which earned the club him, and him, a first ever trip to Wembley.

The midfielder played a huge part in his team’s victory over Marske United on Saturday, scoring a penalty which ultimately made all the difference, and making a number of blocks in the final stages as the visitors ramped up their attack.

Marske won 2-1 on the day but it was not enough, Stockton’s 2-0 win in the first leg a week earlier meaning Mulligan and his team-mates came out on top after a dramatic encounter at the Bishopton Road West venue.

“We don’t do things the easy way,” admitted Mulligan, who counts Marske among his former clubs.

“We knew they would come at us and the first goal was so important – we had a chance after about 30 seconds – but Marske threw the kitchen sink at us. They got that early goal and their tails were up.”

Stockton conceded in the eighth minute, but Mulligan’s penalty just before half-time made it 1-1, and 3-1 on aggregate, meaning Marske’s goal early in the second-half goal by James Fairley was not enough to avoid defeat despite a flurry of attacks.

Mulligan added: “I’m generally the penalty taker and I wasn’t nervous, I just knew I had to get a good connection on the ball. I knew if I did that it would probably go in.

“The game plan went out of the window when they scored their second, so we just had to dig deep.

“Lads were cramping up or hobbling, they were launching balls at our defence and we dealt with it.

“It was pure desire from every single one of our player, words can’t describe how I feel.

“I was so emotional at full-time, I’ve never felt this sort of happiness. I was close to tears, it’s a dream come true.

“My son Lucas is going to be watching me at Wembley. He’s just turned four, he’s football mad and all he’s been talking about is Wembley.”

Mulligan also ‘scored’ when attempting to play the ball back to Marske goalkeeper Robert Deane after play had been stopped, the referee ruling the goal out.

The midfielder explained: “I was just trying to get the ball as far away from the goal as possible to kill time, but the connection was too good and it went over Deano’s head!

“Fortunately the referee disallowed it which was fair enough, I didn’t mean to do it.”