Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale said he was proud of his players after they booked a place at Wembley in the League Two play-off final with a 3-1 win over Lincoln City at St James Park.
The Grecians, having drawn 0-0 at Sincil Bank in the first leg, took the lead in the tie with a good strike from Jayden Stockley before Hiram Boateng and Ryan Harley added wonder goals to put them in control of the tie. Lincoln did pull a goal back, through Matt Green, but City defended well to hang onto their two-goal advantage.
“It was a purposeful and performance of intent,” said Tis. “It was as positive as we could have given.
“We wanted to be really tough today. We obviously saw a lot on Saturday of the problems Lincoln can cause any teams. We acknowledged that. We can’t stop everything but we reduced it today.
“Of course they gave us a last 15 minutes of torrid pummeling into our penalty box but what do you expect? They were desperate to get the goals back, but I have to say I am very proud of the way we played.”
Ryan Harley’s volley from 30 yards and Hiram Boateng’s long-range strike, following a run from inside his own half, stole the headlines on the night.
Speaking about the goals, Tis said: “Jayden came into the dressing room and said: ‘I can’t believe my goal was the worst of all three’. That is a typical centre-forward. He (Hiram) probably owed us a goal. He has got into some good positions a lot and he would probably say that himself. Ryan Harley, we know he has got that in him. He has got that composure. He hit two in the first half that he didn’t catch at all but that was the toughest of the lot and he just kept his eye on it and his head was beautifully still.
“What a strike. I have to say I did jump up and down a little bit at that point. I think we thoroughly deserved it. There were some edgy last 10 minutes, but what do you expect.”
It is the second time in as many seasons that City have reached the League Two play-off final. So how does Tis feel about going back to the home of football?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I am already focused on the next 10 days. It feels very different to this time last year.
“Yes, we have to enjoy the moment. It is not given, you have to earn these moments. However, all I can say is last year we celebrated and quite rightly because it was an amazing, amazing day last year (when City beat Carlisle United in the semi-final), but if you lose at Wembley it doesn’t half take the shine off it.
“So, let’s just remember that. It doesn’t mean because we think that, that we are going to win at Wembley. We have got a lot of work to do and there will be another team dearly wanting to win as well.”
“I feel proud of the players and want them to get everything they deserve,” added Tis. “They are a fabulous bunch. A really good squad. They play for each other really hard.
“The players who weren’t selected trained so hard the last three days not only to compete for a place but also to make the training lifelike and real. Many a squad would have had a really different attitude but my boys made everything correct for each other. I just want them to get everything they deserve. We will give it our very best and enjoy it.”
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