Jayden Stockley, Hiram Boateng and Ryan Harley all scored sublime efforts to book Exeter City’s place at Wembley on May 28th.
After taking the lead through Stockley’s strike in the first half, Boateng and Harley both fired home in style after half-time to put City three goals in front. Matt Green then scored a late consolation goal for the visitors, as City outshone the Imps on the night.
The Grecians made one change from the side that battled to a goalless draw in the first leg at Sincil Bank, with Robbie Simpson replacing Lloyd James in Paul Tisdale’s starting line up.
Both sides looked to make a quick start in what was an electric atmosphere at St James Park, and it was City who had the game’s first chance through Robbie Simpson.
Boateng threaded a neat ball into the feet of Stockley, whose deflected cross found Simpson in the box. The striker looked to steer the ball towards goal on the turn, but his effort was narrowly wide of the near post.
In response, Lincoln looked to make their presence felt when Alex Woodyard’s long ball was met by the head of Michael Bostwick in the penalty area. Bostwick’s lofted header landed to Matt Rhead at the far post, but he couldn’t adjust his body to direct any meaningful effort at goal from close range.
City then applied a period of sustained pressure on the Lincoln back line, which included a couple of long-range efforts from Ryan Harley, as well as a fine save from Ryan Allsop to keep out Jordan Storey’s bullet header.
City’s persistence then eventually paid off as they took the lead in the 26th minute. Jordan Moore-Taylor’s long ball was knocked forward to Pierce Sweeney and the defender calmly nodded the ball to his right, and into the path of the oncoming Stockley. City’s top scorer was first to the loose ball and he then rifled the ball home from a tight angle to send the Big Bank into raptures.
Soon later, it appeared that Elliott Whitehouse had pulled the Imps level before the goal was ruled out by referee Darren England, who adjudged there to have been a handball in the build-up.
Seconds after half-time, the tie was lit up by a moment of genius as Boateng doubled City’s lead in style.
The midfielder, who was at the heart of everything for City, surged forward from inside his own half and found space some 30-yards from goal. He then cut inside and curled a stunning shot which soared past the helpless Allsop and into the back of the net after a deflection off the left-hand post.
Lincoln then pushed forward as they looked to find a way back into the game. Their spell of pressure culminated in a decent chance for the visitors where the ball was headed back and forth in the City penalty area before Rhead’s headed effort was gratefully claimed by the rising Christy Pym.
At the other end, Ryan Harley responded by producing a moment of his own magic to hand City some comfort on the 70th minute.
Sweeney picked out the midfielder from a throw-in and then it was all Harley as he pummelled a sublime half-volley from 30 yards out. The ball sailed in to the top corner to hand City a three-goal cushion in remarkable fashion.
Minutes later, Lincoln struck back as Matt Green gave the visitors a glimmer of hope with 10 minutes remaining. Green pounced on to Rhead’s flick-on and then dinked the ball past Pym to set up an interesting finale at St James Park.
The visitors gained confidence from Green’s strike and looked to capitalise on their new-found momentum with a flurry of opportunities in the closing stages. It was Green again who had the pick of the chances to add to Lincoln’s only goal.
However, City’s defence held firm to ensure the Grecians booked their place at Wembley for a second consecutive season.
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, Tillson, Harley, Simpson, Stockley (James 85), Moore-Taylor, Moxey, Taylor, Storey, Boateng (Archibald-Henville 76)
Subs not used: Jones, Woodman, McAlinden, Jay, Edwards
Lincoln City: Allsop, Whitehouse, Waterfall, Rhead, Green, Wilson, Bostwick, Frecklington (Pett 73), Eardley, Anderson (Palmer 55), Woodyard
Subs not used: Farman, Long, Wharton, Chapman, Williams
Booked: Eardley, Bostwick
Attendance: 5,645 (363 away)
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