While some fans might have been thinking about heading for the exits as Aldershot held their single goal lead heading towards the 120th minute, Daryl McMahon still felt his side could conjure one last chance. And his skipper repaid that faith by getting his head on to Dean Rance’s cross in the play-off eliminator’s death throes.
“You never let go, ever,” McMahon told BBC Radio Kent’s Matt Cole. “This team’s got that [belief] in abundance. The last few weeks you’ve seen the characters in this team and it rarely gets mentioned. This team is full of character and belief and togetherness. We’ve proved it over three years. We’re never a team that gets beaten easily. If you beat us, you’ve really got to beat us.
“We actually said with a minute to go it would be nice if we could turn what happened against Maidstone to happen to us now and get a goal in the last minute and win the penalties and it did. In that instance you always get one chance and as Dean hooked it in, you’ve seen Dave Winfield coming in and it was just a matter of if he could score or not. I’m delighted for him because he’s been unbelievable for me for two years now, a terrific captain and leader.”
Given his experiences in that final against Maidstone, McMahon felt empathy for Shots boss Gary Waddock who saw victory snatched from his grasp.
“It was brilliant but before we [ran over to the fans], we shook Gary [Waddock’s] hand,” McMahon said. “He’s a terrific man and manager and his team’s an excellent team as well. They play football the right way and credit to him and his team.
It was a real team performance at the EBB Stadium but Jack Connors, for so long an unsung hero, proved himself as central to the cause once more after scoring his first goal at Torquay last weekend.
“Bushy’s been terrific,” McMahon said, “but it was in terms of how Aldershot would play tonight. Jack can get out quicker to win the ball and we have him there for attacking reasons as well. He’s very very good in one v one and good across the ground and he’s got technical quality.”
Mentally, the game was an exhausting spectacle and McMahon admitted it drained him but he was pleased his players never let it affect their levels.
“You’re normally drained when you watch us play,” he said. “I’m delighted for everyone to win. A lot of hard work and a lot of belief as well. You can see the depth of the players’ character today, it came shining through again. The emotion… I don’t know at the minute. I’ll let it settle in the first night at home and then get ready for Tranmere on Saturday. We’re a fit bunch and we got stronger tonight. To score right at the death shows that mental and physical fitness.”