Neil Aspin said his FC Halifax Town side deserve to be taking a 1-0 lead to Cambridge after Lee Gregory’s penalty handed them the advantage in their play-off semi-final.
Town edged a nervy match in front of the biggest crowd of the season at the Shay, with Gregory notching his 32nd goal of the season with seven minutes remaining.
Aspin was pleased with his team’s performance, which he felt got better as the game went on.
He said: “I’m really pleased, delighted for the players, because it was a big game for them against a big opposition and the acquitted themselves really well.
“I think the first 15 minutes Cambridge were the better team and it took us a bit of time to get going.
“But once we got into our stride and found our feet I felt that we got stronger.
“As the game went on in the second-half I felt we were the better team and we deserved to get the goal.”
Gregory has now scored three times in three appearances against Cambridge this season, but Aspin preferred the praise to be given to his team as a whole.
He said: “It’s nice for Lee to get the goal but I don’t want to single him out because the strength of the team has been made up by 11 players working their socks off from back to front.
“It’s been a team performance all season with a good team spirit and obviously Lee’s been tremendous up front and he’s put the icing on the cake and given us the goals, which has made the team function.
“But all the team have worked exceptionally hard to get that result.”
The Town boss said his side belied their part-time status by finishing the game stronger than the visitors, but warned Cambridge may be a different proposition on Sunday.
Aspin said: “I must again give the players credit because they’re a part-time team who finished stronger against a full-time team.
“They had a big, physical team, a lot of height, probably more than I would have expected, but that’s obviously to combat us, which is a testimony to how well we’ve done, especially off set-pieces and throw-ins.
“But they caused us problems off set-pieces.
“They’ve got lots of personnel to change it if they want to go a different route for Sunday.
“They’ve got very good players who can come into that starting 11.”
Aspin also said the crowd’s backing helped carry Town to victory and was pleased with the turnout at the Shay.
He added: “They did play a part. It wasn’t just the fact that we had a good crowd but we had a crowd that was willing the team on and not there to criticise but to encourage.
“When you’re a player, you feed off any encouragement you get and it’s much better when you get a crowd like that.
“It just keeps you going, especially in the later stages of the game and the crowd were excellent tonight, gave us good support and came in good numbers.”