By Nathan BeesThe buzz surrounding the club since our comfortable two-legged victory over Forest Green Rovers has been fantastic and with just 48 hours until we all descend on Wembley for the play-off final, it is inevitable that excitement levels will continue to grow.
Our performances against Forest Green demonstrated that we have a much stronger mentality than many gave us credit for after missing out on the title, and that coupled with the quality in our side makes us worthy finalists. Outsiders were suggesting we would be suffering a hangover after missing out on the title to Barnet on the last day, but they couldn't have been proven more wrong as we romped to a 3-0 aggregate victory.
The lads dismantled Forest Green with consummate ease to book their place in the promotion final and we are now just 90 minutes away from an immediate return to the Football League. Who would have thought that was possible 12 months ago?
Now we are in this position, though, we have to make it count. Whilst it is a huge occasion for all involved at the club and the first genuine opportunity of 'success' we have had in a number of years, it will count for nothing if we lose the game.
As obvious as it sounds, it is imperative that we treat it as just another match. It is an approach that has worked well for us all season and it would be naive in the extreme if we were to change our preparation too much now. Of course it is a big deal - the players are bound to be as excited as we are that they are in with a chance of promotion - but we need to stick with what has got us here in the first place and I am certain we will do.
Why am I so sure? Because Darrell is a meticulous planner and he won't allow anyone's focus to wander from the task at hand.
That is why I think the decision to take the squad to Wembley on Monday was a smart move. It enabled the players to get used to their surroundings in advance of game day and let them get their selfies out the way before Sunday. They could enjoy what they had achieved so far and I am hoping they will have visualised how they are going to finish the job off in two days' time!
As soon as they made their way back to Bristol they could begin to concentrate solely on facing Grimsby Town without any other distractions, and that can only be a good thing.
The Mariners are a side we took 4 points off during the season and whilst that should give us plenty of belief, it will have no bearing on what happens on Sunday. It is a one-off winner-takes-all clash and everything that has gone before is irrelevant. We beat Forest Green home and away in the play-offs after taking just a solitary point off them in the league, so we know only too well what can happen.
Grimsby are a good team and after comfortably dispatching of Eastleigh to get to the final, Paul Hurst's men will be as confident as we are that they can book their place in League Two for 2015-2016. They have experienced players throughout the spine of their team and with players like Craig Disley driving them on - a man who has tasted Wembley success in the past - they will be positive that they can end their lengthy stay in the fifth tier.
As we all know by now, Darrell's knowledge of the opposition is always extensive and he will be more than aware of what to expect from Grimsby. They are strong and have pace out wide, which is something I am sure they will look to exploit, but that doesn't mean we should be too concerned with combatting their attacking threats. It is much more important for us to play our natural game and look to cause them problems instead.
I am growing slightly nervous as each day passes because I know what is at stake, but to be honest I have absolute faith in every single Rovers player that they can go out and win the game. We have shown the desire, mental toughness and quality on the pitch to overcome any side in this division, and I cannot see any reason why registering another victory is beyond us.
Whatever happens this team has restored pride back into the quarters and have helped to unite our disillusioned fan base with the team, which is something that I certainly did not envisage happening so quickly 12 months ago. For that I am incredibly thankful. Defeat would be heartbreaking and ultimately render the season a huge disappointment, but the lads really could not have given us any more and we cannot ask for any more than that.
It is for that reason that the army of Gasheads heading to Wembley will be optimistic and, more importantly, 100% behind the team from the first minute to the last. We go into the game together and we will come out of it together and that is the beauty of what Darrell and his side have managed to achieve this season.
All we can do now is look forward to the game and keep everything crossed that we will get the outcome we all desperately want. However your weekend is planned, however you plan on getting to Wembley, enjoy the build-up and make sure you take it all in - you will only regret letting it pass you by if we go on to win!
For the last time this season (and hopefully for the last time in the Conference).
Come on Rovers, come on you blues!