WAYNE Goodison said that 1874 Northwich’s players proved they can handle the big occasion after they eased through to the FA Vase semi-finals on Saturday.

Scott McGowan’s first-half penalty put the visitors in front at Leighton, a lead they protected in relative comfort for the remainder to win an eighth tie in an already-historic run.

“I think we had lads that knew what to do and they didn’t,” reflected the co-manager afterwards.

“That showed at times, and we dealt better with the big moments.

“Scott’s penalty is the most obvious example, and he was clinical, but defensively we got things right and made sure we didn’t give them any encouragement.

“That helped us; it was a professional job to come all this way and win in the way we did.

“I’m surprised at how comfortable we were, although perhaps our players deserve credit for that.”

The home team’s best spell was before they fell behind, when Domenico Marsala fluffed a sitter and Alex O’Brien’s speculative effort prompted goalkeeper Greg Hall to save smartly.

Matt Hall’s delivery from set-pieces was also a problem.

Leighton were visibly disheartened after falling behind though, and 1874 blunted even their sharpest weapon – corners – after the interval following Danny Meadowcroft’s introduction as a substitute.

Goodison said: “We prepared properly, and from the moment we stepped onto the bus on Friday we were focused.

“I kept expecting them to change things, but it never happened – their substitutions were all like-for-like swaps.

“I’m not complaining about that, mind!”

He told the Guardian the club’s supporters, who travelled in huge numbers to Leighton Buzzard, could now start to dream of a trip to the final at Wembley.

“You’ve waited for me to say this but it really does get serious now,” grinned Goodison.

“It’s a wonderful achievement to make it through; there are only four teams left, and we’ll all look at it and think we desperately want to avoid losing in the last-four.

“I asked for our fans to play their part, and boy did they!

“To see their reaction after the final whistle only makes it sweeter.”