Paul Simpson is “gutted” for Ben Barclay after the on-loan Stockport defender scored the goal that secured Carlisle’s 3-2 aggregate Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final win over Bradford.
Barclay cannot play against his parent club who earlier in the day defeated Salford on penalties to reach Wembley themselves.
Barclay headed home after Bradford threatened to send the tie to penalties as 37-year-old Matt Derbyshire brought the teams level on aggregate early in the second half of extra time.
Brad Halliday’s own goal after 21 minutes and Callum Guy’s strike in the first period of extra time gave the Cumbrians the advantage after losing the first leg at Valley Parade 1-0.
“Ben got the goal but unfortunately can’t play,” confirmed otherwise jubilant boss Simpson. “It is one of those nightmare scenarios.
“When he has been fit this year Ben has been brilliant for us. I am sure he will be coming along for the trip.
“Even though he can’t be involved in the game he will be a big part of our training programme.
“We knew that before and it was always a gamble. I am sure he was desperate for it to be Salford.”
On Carlisle’s first trip to Wembley since 2011 Simpson, who masterminded United’s last promotion, added: “We are not going there to make up the numbers.
“I had so much belief in the group we had enough to get over the line.
“They produced a performance to get us a result against a good side.
“I am sweating buckets because I feel like I have gone through the mill myself.”
Bradford were always on the back foot when Halliday, under pressure from JK Gordon, put through his own net after 21 minutes.
They did hit the post shortly after but League Two’s top marksman Andy Cook had little opportunity to add to his 31-goal total.
“It wasn’t what we hoped for,” said Bantams boss Mark Hughes. “.Clearly we wanted to get to the last game of the season.
“We have played well enough this season to deserve that.
“We have looked back on the goals and clearly they are all bad goals. But every goal is a bad goal and we could have done better in certain situations.
“I am disappointed with the last one especially. We had enough players around the lad who got the header.
“It has been an exceptional season in terms of where we were last year. We should not overlook that point.
“We have produced some great moments but other moments have hurt us and not allowed us to finish the season how we wanted.
“We are a different club now and we can use this disappointment next season. We came up short this season but next year we won’t.”
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