Wembley dream a motivation for midfielder McWilliams

When one door closes, another one opens.

By James Heneghan
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 3:00 pm
Cobblers midfielder Shaun McWilliams (Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Cobblers midfielder Shaun McWilliams (Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images)

And for Shaun McWilliams, after the heartbreaking of being denied automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season, that means an opportunity to achieve a lifelong ambition.

A long-term knee injury meant the Northampton-born midfielder was forced to sit in the stands as Cobblers played and won at Wembley in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs in 2020.

Now, he is two games away from stepping out onto the hallowed turf himself.

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Shaun McWilliams is dreaming of playing at Wembley

"On a personal note, there are certain things you want to achieve throughout your career and one of those for me is to play at Wembley,” admitted McWilliams.

"But I just look at it game by game and the aim is to get past the first hurdle at Mansfield on Saturday.

"The next one after that will be Wembley.

"Play-offs was our minimum aim at the start of the season so to be in this position, it's a positive."

McWilliams admits the way in which Cobblers missed out to Bristol Rovers at the weekend is not something that can be forgotten in a hurry.

However, a clear-the-air meeting on Monday morning allowed everyone to vent their frustration and disappointment and then turn the focus to Field Mill and Mansfield Town this coming Saturday evening.

"We had a meeting on Monday to get everyone's view of things and just to talk about it but once that was done, our aim was on the next game and the next game is on Saturday at Mansfield,” said McWilliams.

"Now it's all about preparing properly.

"We will use it as fuel and we are all raring to go. The lads have done it all year and whenever we have had our backs against the wall, we have shown we can deliver.

"Our focus is on winning the next two games and trying to get to Wembley.”

If Cobblers are able to get their heads around what happened on Saturday, then they can take great heart and encouragement from their recent performances.

They are unbeaten in six, winning four, and playing some of their best football of the whole season.

McWilliams continued: "We are in good form and I don't think many teams will want to play us.

"We still have the momentum from the way we finished the season and that's obviously a positive for us.

"We have the game at Mansfield but then we are back at Sixfields with our fans and I'm sure they will be right behind us."

And that’s one major difference between now and 2020 – both Field Mill and Sixfields will be filled to the brim, and possibly Wembley too should Northampton get that far.

"I'm looking forward to it,” added McWilliams. “I'm not sure how many of our team has been involved in the play-offs before but obviously the last time the club played in the play-offs, we didn't have any fans.

"This time it will be special to have the fans with us and I'm sure they will right behind us.

"We have a point to prove because we want to be promoted and we think we can get promoted and this would be the best way to do it."