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Exeter beat Lincoln to book place at Wembley

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    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.

    View the original article:

    “Decisions – some go for you, some go against you, you’ve just got to suck it in.”

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