WILY midfielder Tony Carss reckons the experience of winning promotion through the play-offs rather than automatically will serve Town well for years to come.
The much-travelled 28-year-old landed the sponsors' man of the match award in Monday's Division III play-off final and was also among the scorers in the penalty shoot-out which marked joy for Town but misery for Mansfield at the Millennium Stadium.
Carss wasn't surprised Town came through the test of nerve, and he believes the confidence and self-belief generated by the success will help Peter Jackson's side make a flying start in Division II.
"We've got the nucleus of a very good side and with a couple of additions, I'm certain we can challenge next season," said the man who dropped a division when he signed at the McAlpine from Oldham last summer.
"The last few weeks of the season were quite an experience.
"First we had the major disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion, then the euphoria of getting past Lincoln to make it to the play-off final, then the drama of the Mansfield match.
"It was a good game, end to end and high energy. In the second half of normal time, they came out strongly and played well, but over the whole 120 minutes, we had the better chances.
"What was important was that we stuck together, and we were always confident we could win, even if it went to penalties.
"We knew Mansfield had a good record from the spot, but we had worked on penalties all week and knew what to do if the situation arose.
"When 48 games and a lot of hard work come down to five kicks from the spot, it's not hard to get focused.
"It's all about getting good contact on the ball, putting it where you want and hoping the goalkeeper goes the other way, and for us, that happened."
The penalty preparation was part of what Carss reckons was great forward thinking by managerial team Peter Jackson and Terry Yorath.
"They worked so hard to get everybody ready," added the former Bradford, Blackburn, Darlington, Cardiff, Chesterfield and Carlisle man.
"We trained hard but also had some relaxation and that helped improve what was already a great team spirit.
"We came down to Cardiff in plenty of time, and going to watch Crystal Palace and West Ham in the First Division final on the Saturday was a masterstroke.
"The Millenniun Stadium is a magnificent place, and being there for that game meant we already had a feel for it.
"We won promotion the hard way, but you could say it's the best way.
"Our younger players have gained great experience, and even the older ones like myself, Steve Yates, Andy Booth and Efe Sodje have learned something new.