Gareth Ainsworth hopes he has repaid the faith of Wycombe Wanderers’ fans after securing the club’s first trip to Wembley in more than two decades.

The Chairboys were 90 minutes from going out of the Football League 12 months ago but a year later and Ainsworth has guided his troops to Wembley for the League Two play-off final after beating Plymouth Argyle 2-1 tonight and 5-3 on aggregate.

It will be Ainsworth’s second trip to ‘the home of football’ and by happenstance it was his current club who broke his 21-year-old heart when Wycombe defeated his Preston North End side 4-2 in 1994 to achieve promotion to the old Second Division (now League One).

Ainsworth was asked if he hoped history would be repeating itself come May 23, when the Blues will face Southend United in the play-off final.

“There are two issues to that,” he replied. “History repeating itself means I would lose at Wembley so I don’t want that but Wycombe won at Wembley so I want that one. We will see how it goes.

“At the moment I’m not thinking of Wembley, I’m thinking of relaxing. I might have to tell the missus she might not see me until a bit later tonight because I have a team that I want to celebrate with. But publically we won’t be popping any champagne or bringing any crates of beers in because there is still a job to do.

“It is a pride that fills me inside that I am celebrating tonight and the fans deserve this. They stuck by me, gave me faith and I hope I have repaid that faith.”

More than 40,000 people watched the 1994 Third Division play-off final and it was to be a familiar face who started the Wanderers revival having been 2-1 down in the first half.

Ainsworth is a Blackburn Rovers fan and was at the club until he was 18 before being released. It was Blackburn’s record goalscorer Simon Garner who equalised to make it 2-2 before Dave Carroll’s double completed the 4-2 victory.

Ainsworth recalled: “The older you get the more you take in so as a 21-year-old lad there are not too many memories of that day believe it or not. I remember my childhood hero Simon Garner scoring against us and us being 2-1 up but it was a real whirlwind as we lost 4-2. The memories are very diluted but as a 42-year-old leading a team out at Wembley I’m sure I will remember every moment.”

And like the class of 94, Wanderers’ current crop had to show character against Plymouth tonight after sacrificing a convincing three-goal lead in the final four minutes in Plymouth last week, with the first leg finishing 3-2 to the visitors.

Ainsworth said: “I thought my players handled the situation extremely well. I though the mental side was the most important thing today after what happened at Home Park; when we came off the pitch with Plymouth in the ascendancy so I had to get the mental side right, because the physical side was there due to it being May.

“We did something a little bit different – I’m not going into it so don’t ask – so it was really important we got that right and the first goal was crucial.”

Paul Hayes’ opener in the eighth minute was the start of a dominant first-half display from the Blues and Argyle could have few complaints when Alfie Mawson headed in a second goal ten minutes before the break.

Ryan Brunt pulled a goal back with 19 minutes of normal time remaining but in truth Wanderers’ progression was not in doubt tonight.

Ainsworth was keen to praise Plymouth’s fans and their manager John Sheridan in his post-match press conference but stressed he felt Wanderers deserved their place at Wembley.

The dominant display was all the more impressive considering Wycombe had a number of players carrying knocks or minor injuries.

Ainsworth said: “I had players out there today who were far from being fully fit but that is what I have here; I have characters and players who want to play not just in the big games but at the likes of Accrington or Morecambe away.

“They would play through anything for me and as a manager that is special.”

There will be more from Ainsworth in the coming days.

You can read the thoughts of Aaron Pierre after Thursday's win here.

You can also read a report of tonight’s win here.