DEJECTED striker Michael Rae has urged his West Auckland team-mates to bounce back from their Wembley heartache and finish the season off by winning some silverware.
Rae was part of the Auckland side that lost yesterday’s FA Vase final 2-0 to Northern League rivals Dunston UTS.
It was a massive blow for the Hartlepool frontman, whose two goals in the second leg of the semi-final had fired his side to the national stadium.
However, he remained determined to savour the memories – and has vowed to return to Wembley next year and lift the prestigious trophy.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Rae, after a brace from Dunston’s Andrew Bulford gave his side the victory.
“We’ve done well to get this far, and gave it our all. We just weren’t the best team on the day. They edged it with the two goals, that was the difference.
“It’s disappointing but we’re not going to let our heads drop.
“We’ve got a big game (the League Cup final against Team Northumbria) on Wednesday, so we have to put this behind us.
“We have to take some confidence into that game and we will.”
The final was evenly-matched in the first period, with chances at both end in an open encounter.
West skipper Mattie Moffat and Rae were causing the UTS defence problems.
Moffat was denied by the foot of goalkeeper Liam Connell before Rae beat Swailes for pace, only to be unable to find enough power on his shot to beat the Dunston goalkeeper.
And just a couple of minutes later, Bulford – who had gone close twice earlier – lobbed UTS into a 32nd-minute lead with a sublime finish to maintain his record of scoring in every round.
West pressed hard after the break, and Moffat had an effort disallowed for offside while Rae saw a free-kick deflected wide.
But Dunston looked a threat on the break, and Bulford and Stephen Goddard both hit the crossbar before Bulford grabbed his second with 11 minutes to go to seal the win.
“I had a couple of half-chances but it just wasn’t to be,” added ex-Pools striker Rae, who was joined in the starting line-up by Hartlepool-born Jonny Gibson, while Martin Young came from the bench on the hour mark.
“But it’s been a tremendous experience, not many people get to play at Wembley.
“Everyone wants to play here, it doesn’t get much better.
“The only thing is we didn’t come home with the trophy.
“Hopefully we can bounce back from this and come back next year.”