Exeter City fell to a 3-1 Wembley defeat at the hands of Coventry City and will remain in Sky Bet League Two.
City were denied promotion by the Sky Blues who raced into a three-goal lead after half-time through strikes from Jordan Willis, Jordan Shipley and Jack Grimmer. Kyle Edwards then eventually put the Grecians on the score sheet late on in the Wembley encounter.
Match report sponsored by Speedy Freight
Paul Tisdale made one change to the side that secured City’s 3-1 second leg victory over Lincoln City, with Craig Woodman replacing Robbie Simpson in the starting line-up.
City and Coventry tussled for dominance in the opening exchanges but initially struggled to find many sights on goal, as both sides firstly looked to find their feet on a big occasion in the capital.
The first notable chance eventually came in the 16th minute when Coventry’s Marc McNulty looked to be one-on-one with Christy Pym, but Jordan Storey made a stunning last-ditch tackle to prevent the striker from testing Pym.
McNulty then had a series of further efforts on goal, as Coventry’s top scorer looked to make his mark at Wembley. One of his efforts was volleyed well over the bar and another was easily claimed by Pym.
City eventually had their first chance through their first corner. Hiram Boateng whipped the ball towards the back post and Jordan Storey won the aerial battle before his header was grasped by Lee Burge in goal.
Another City chance soon followed, as Jayden Stockley’s smart lay-off was met with a first time effort from Ryan Harley, but the midfielder fired his strike straight in to the hands of Burge.
However, the deadlock was eventually broken after half-time with Coventry drawing first blood. The ball fell to Willis on the edge of the box and he took a fine first touch before taking a glance at goal and curling an unstoppable effort beyond Pym and in to the right-hand corner of the net.
Coventry gained huge momentum from this opener in what had been an extremely tight game up to this point, and the Sky Blues surged forward minutes later to double their advantage.
McNulty ran at the City defence before offloading the ball into the path of Shipley. The midfielder fired a low effort that took a wicked deflection off Pierce Sweeney and looped over the head of Pym into the back of the net.
City then needed to search for a response and they had a penalty shout waved away by referee David Webb after Jayden Stockley was brought down in the Coventry penalty box.
As City began to plough more men forward, Coventry looked to catch them on the counter-attack and they nearly did so when McNulty’s effort was tipped wide by Pym after the Sky Blues had broken away.
But in the 69th minute, Coventry bagged their third goal to put the game out of City’s reach. Grimmer was teed up by McNulty on the right-hand side of the City box and and the full back cushioned a side-footed effort into the top corner to leave Pym with little chance.
City looked to craft a response and did come close through Ryan Harley, whose long range effort was tipped wide by Burge, and also Matt Jay who saw his shot deflect wide off the post.
The Grecians eventually got their goal when Kyle Edwards, who looked lively after his introduction, cut inside from the left and fired a thumping finish beyond Burge and into the back of the net.
However, this goal was little more than a consolation for City who suffered Wembley heartbreak for the second season in a row.
Coventry City: Burge, Grimmer, Stokes, Willis, Kelly, Doyle, Biamou (Clarke-Harris 51), McNulty, Hyam, Shipley (Reid 72), Bayliss.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Woodman (James 62), Tillson, Harley, Stockley, Moore-Taylor, Moxey (Jay 62), Taylor, Storey, Boateng (Edwards 72).
Subs not used: Jones, Archibald-Henville, Simpson, Wilson.