League Two - Play-offs - 2nd Leg
Exeter3Lincoln City1

Exeter City 3-1 Lincoln City (Agg 3-1)

Ryan Harley
Ryan Harley's stunning 25-yard half-volley put Exeter City 3-0 up at St James Park

Two spectacular second-half goals helped Exeter City make the League Two play-off final for a second successive season as they beat Lincoln City.

After a goalless first leg, Jayden Stockley put them ahead before Elliott Whitehouse's goal was ruled out.

Hiram Boateng made it 2-0 just after the break, running from inside his own half before curling in off the post.

Ryan Harley's brilliant 25-yard strike sealed victory, with Matt Green's late effort no more than a consolation.

Exeter will face the winner of Friday's second leg between Notts County and Coventry City for a place in League One at Wembley on Monday, 28 May.

Exeter should have been more than one goal to the good at the break as Robbie Simpson and Jordan Storey both missed good chances from close range, before Stockley scored his 25th goal of the season after a lovely header across goal from Pierce Sweeney.

Lincoln were dumb-founded five minutes before half-time when Whitehouse's close-range blast was disallowed after Matt Rhead handled in the build up, although the Imps felt their striker had been pushed in the air to cause the infraction.

But Boateng's spectacular goal - just his second since joining the club from Crystal Palace last summer - settled the tie as a contest as he barrelled his way through the middle of the pitch and beat three defenders before brilliantly finishing.

Harley's third was almost as good, as the talented midfielder picked up there ball from a throw-in and effortlessly smashed home.

Lincoln threw everything at Exeter in the final minutes and pulled one back when Green got on the end of a Rhead flick-on.

The visitors felt the big forward was then fouled in the box minutes after, but referee Darren England again ruled against the Imps - to the dismay of the Lincoln boss Danny Cowley and his assistant and brother Nicky.

Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale told BBC Sport:

"It was a really good performance. There's winning and there's winning and I think we really went at our opponents.

"I'm delighted with the performance. It doesn't always get the result you think it deserves, but today it did.

"Three goals, some really offensive, attacking, purposeful play and some great defending at the end. I'm just really proud of the way the players took all the direction we gave them.

"They gave such a robust performance - energetic and attack-minded - and we got three great goals off the back of it.

"The second goal and the third goal were just brilliant.

"The first goal was a really good team goal, it was something we were very pleased about for a number of reasons. It sets the tone and then we scored at a really good time in the second half."

Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley told BBC Radio Lincolnshire:

"The best team won. We're disappointed with key decisions that went against us and we know that if some of those went for us, then maybe that would've affected their performance and outcome of the game.

"But they've scored two very good goals from distance and technically, they certainly beat us in that area of the game.

"We fought to the end, that's a pre-requisite, we should do. We're going to be disappointed, but we've got to keep that close.

"It's clear where we need to go next season and we'll come back stronger for this experience."

On their disallowed goal in the first half: "Matt Rhead's had a two-handed push in the back in the first half and it's just incredible how they've given the decision to disallow the goal for us.

"He is a Championship referee and I can't believe how poor his performance was tonight. It's a season's-worth of hard-work for ourselves out the window. Same with the penalty appeal in the second half.

"Decisions - some go for you, some go against you, you've just got to suck it in."

Line-ups

Exeter

  • 1Pym
  • 2Sweeney
  • 38Storey
  • 15Moore-Taylor
  • 21MoxeyBooked at 90mins
  • 25Taylor
  • 6Tillson
  • 44BoatengSubstituted forArchibald-Henvilleat 76'minutes
  • 7Harley
  • 8SimpsonSubstituted forJamesat 85'minutes
  • 11StockleyBooked at 89mins

Substitutes

  • 3Woodman
  • 4James
  • 5Archibald-Henville
  • 12Jones
  • 19McAlinden
  • 20Jay
  • 28Edwards

Lincoln City

  • 22Allsop
  • 15Wilson
  • 5Waterfall
  • 16BostwickBooked at 83mins
  • 23EardleyBooked at 18mins
  • 30Woodyard
  • 19FrecklingtonSubstituted forPettat 73'minutes
  • 26AndersonSubstituted forPalmerat 55'minutes
  • 4Whitehouse
  • 10Green
  • 9Rhead

Substitutes

  • 1Farman
  • 2Long
  • 6Wharton
  • 7Pett
  • 8Palmer
  • 12Chapman
  • 14Williams
Referee:
Darren England
Attendance:
5,645

Match Stats

Home TeamExeterAway TeamLincoln City
Possession
Home40%
Away60%
Shots
Home13
Away9
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home7
Away9
Fouls
Home13
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Exeter City 3, Lincoln City 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Exeter City 3, Lincoln City 1.

Foul by Luke Waterfall (Lincoln City).

Troy Archibald-Henville (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Matt Rhead (Lincoln City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ryan Harley (Exeter City).

Booking

Dean Moxey (Exeter City) is shown the yellow card.

Offside, Lincoln City. Luke Waterfall tries a through ball, but Matt Green is caught offside.

Booking

Jayden Stockley (Exeter City) is shown the yellow card.

James Wilson (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jayden Stockley (Exeter City).

Attempt missed. Matt Rhead (Lincoln City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Neal Eardley with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Lloyd James.

Tom Pett (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lloyd James (Exeter City).

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Lloyd James replaces Robbie Simpson.

Booking

Michael Bostwick (Lincoln City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Michael Bostwick (Lincoln City).

Jake Taylor (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match (Lincoln City).

Goal!

Goal! Exeter City 3, Lincoln City 1. Matt Green (Lincoln City) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Matt Rhead with a headed pass.

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Jake Taylor.

Elliott Whitehouse (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jake Taylor (Exeter City).

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Troy Archibald-Henville replaces Hiram Boateng.

Matt Green (Lincoln City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ryan Harley (Exeter City).

Substitution

Substitution, Lincoln City. Tom Pett replaces Lee Frecklington.

Ollie Palmer (Lincoln City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jayden Stockley (Exeter City).

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Jayden Stockley.

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Jordan Storey.

Attempt blocked. Luke Waterfall (Lincoln City) header from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lee Frecklington with a cross.

Corner, Lincoln City. Conceded by Jordan Storey.

Goal!

Goal! Exeter City 3, Lincoln City 0. Ryan Harley (Exeter City) left footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Pierce Sweeney.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Luke Waterfall.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Luke Waterfall.

Foul by Matt Green (Lincoln City).

Dean Moxey (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

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