WHILE most dared not think about just how high the stakes were at Wembley, Jim Smith was characteristically straight-talking.

“It is I think, without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest game in Oxford United’s history,” he said.

That was quite a statement from the man who took the club into the top flight, but he was bang on the money.

Another near-miss in the bid to restore Football League status would have been a massive blow.

This felt like win or bust.

They had taken four points off York, managed by ex-U’s striker Martin Foyle, while there was one other ace up their sleeve.

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More than 30,000 supporters – 80 per cent of the crowd – came to support United, in their first visit to Wembley since the Milk Cup final.

Boss Chris Wilder had talked up his strikers’ threat before the game and they responded in stunning style early on.

Matt Green put them ahead in the 15th minute, sweeping a finish high into the net.

Banbury Cake:

  • Matt Green fires United into 15th-minute lead against York at Wembley          Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

James Constable had been involved in the build-up and six minutes later the roles were reversed, when Green played in the U’s top scorer to bag his 26th goal of the season with a low left-footed strike into the net.

Their comfort vanished just before the break, when Alex Lawless’s innocuous cross slipped through Ryan Clarke’s grasp and into the net for an own goal.

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That set up a nail-biting second half, where York pushed for an equaliser.

Their challenge was only beaten in the 91st minute, when a counter-attack was finished by Alfie Potter to finally end four years of waiting.

After picking up the trophy, skipper Constable hailed the U’s backing.

He said: “Going out there and seeing that support, that really drives you on, they were fantastic.”

Wilder, who had celebrated with a gleeful knee slide down the touchline, composed himself to add: “This club should not be in this position and we’ve got to make sure it never happens again.”

The most relieved man at the national stadium was Clarke, who managed to look on the bright side after his error did not prove costly.

The goalkeeper said: “I must be one of, if not the first players to score an own goal at the new Wembley, so I guess I’ve got my place in history.”

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Batt, Creighton, Wright, Tonkin, Bulman, Chapman (Day 87), Clist, Green (Potter 68), Constable, Midson (Deering 78).

Unused subs: Turley, Sandwith.

Attendance: 38,957.