Shrewsbury Town manager Paul Hurst believes Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy Final against Lincoln City at Wembley has all the makings of a great match.
As previously reported, Shrewsbury claimed a 1-0 win over Yeovil to reach the final against the Imps, who knocked out Chelsea’s Under-21s in a penalty shootout in the other semi-final.
Both sides are performing well and chasing promotion in their respective divisions too with Shrewsbury second in League One and Lincoln sixth in League Two.
Once in a lifetime opportunity
Paul Hurst told The Lincolnite: “Both teams will be desperate to win and lift the trophy. League form gives both teams confidence.
“It is cliche, but it is just like any other game and it is about how the players can handle the occasion.
“It is just 11 against 11, but in a much better stadium and in front of more fans than usual, so I want the players to enjoy the build-up as it is something you may encounter once in a lifetime.
“We have done well this season, but I don’t feel we are the favourites. On a football basis Lincoln should be in our league so there is not much between the teams in that sense. It has the making of a very good game.”
Enjoy the Wembley experience
Hurst previously won the tournament as a player for Rotherham in 1996, ironically against Shrewsbury, and has urged his players to seize the moment and enjoy the day.
If they win though, the Shrews boss admitted it may only be a “muted celebration” as the players are due back in to training on Tuesday ahead of a key league game against Bradford on Thursday.
He added: “I have stressed the importance of the opportunity in front of us and gradually the players have understood. They need to enjoy the day. When you’re winning and on the front foot you enjoy things more.”
Reflecting on Lincolnshire past
Hurst looks back on his time in Lincolnshire fondly after spending seven years combined at Boston and Grimsby.
The 43-year-old was joint manager of Boston United with Rob Scott between 2009 to 2011 and in their first season they gained promotion.
Hurst spent five years at Grimsby, three in sole control, and is no stranger to Wembley having helped the Mariners to promotion back to the Football League via the play-offs in 2016.
He said: “I have very fond memories of successful times and they are two big clubs in the leagues we were in. Being at the two clubs was a great start for me.
“I have memories of good battles with Lincoln and I had a good record against them and I’m hoping that will continue on Sunday.”
The English Football League will stage a ‘period of applause’ before the final in celebration of the life of former England captain Ray Wilkins, who sadly died on Wednesday, March 4.