Midfielder Nicky Adams on the disappointment of the Exeter defeatWinger Nicky Adams summed up the disappointment felt by the squad when he took time to speak to the press at full time on Thursday night.
Visibly devastated, he spoke openly about his feelings and about his hopes for next season.
“I’m a bit lost for words really,” he admitted. “Firstly we’ve got to say congratulations to Exeter and good luck in the final. The last three games against them have been good games and it’s been a really close contest.
“I’m gutted for everyone. I think you saw what we’re all about again during the game and we have to say a big thank you to the fans. They’ve followed us everywhere all season, they’ve come all this way and on behalf of all the lads we’re just sorry we couldn’t get to Wembley.”
“We gave it everything,” he said. “I think we’ve got to be proud of what we’ve done this season and we need to use it as a benchmark for next year. I’m gutted just gutted because this is hard to swallow at the moment.
“From day one we’ve seen what this group of lads is all about. The gaffer tells us what he wants and he’s just said in there that he’s proud of what we’ve given him this year. Hopefully next year we can go one better. We owe it to him and we owe it to ourselves to be up there again.
“If we can make a good start next season and maybe add a couple of new players we can have a real good go. We know we aren’t far away. We’ve been beaten by a worldie strike in what was the last kick of the game. It’s hard to swallow but it’s the way football is.”
On how the lads had felt after the game, he said: “It was quiet in the dressing room because everyone is devastated. We know we all gave everything and we thought we’d taken it to extra time. Who knows what could have happened from there.
“Fair play to them, the kid hit one in the top corner on his left foot. It could have gone anywhere but it’s ended up in the top corner. That’s happened to us this season and we’ve done it ourselves.
“I’m just gutted for everyone because we were so close, but we’ll go again. We’ll take a few days to reflect and have a few weeks off for the summer now and we’ll get back at it.”
The equaliser so late in the game brought an unbelievable reaction from the terraces as the blue contingent harboured thoughts of another amazing turnaround, and Adams admitted that the players had felt the same as the clock ticked into time added on.
“When John [O’Sullivan] got the equaliser it did feel like there was only one team which was going to go on and win it,” he said. “Whatever the situation, we always feel like we’re going to score. When we got that one back we thought we could get back into it.
“I got past the lad down the line and knew I just had to get it into the box. It was a great run and header from John. When that goes in you do start thinking that it’s on again, but it wasn’t to be this time.
“We gave a great account of ourselves and the people watching on Sky Sports have seen two unbelievable games with two good teams, and it’s been a good advert for the league. We’ll go again next year and we’ll make sure this makes us stronger.”
“This is the benchmark,” he insisted. “From day one, even before I signed when I met the gaffer, I knew what he wanted and I believed in what he was telling me. That hasn’t changed all season. He sets us out to go and play and win every game. It’s really positive and that won’t change.
“This is a great learning curve. We’ll take some of the things that have happened to us during the season, particularly from when we’ve been a bit naïve and when we went through that sticky patch. If we can cut those little things out, and stay in games more when it isn’t going well, I know it will stand us in good stead.
“Overall, I think the lads can be proud of themselves. We were so close to Wembley and we’ve given it everything. Even with two games to go, no one fancied us but we managed to get in there.
“We went right to the end and we’ve been beaten in the last kick of the game. We’re a tough side to beat and I think next year will be a good one.”