YORK City pushed Fleetwood Town all the way before seeing their Sky Bet League Two play-off bid end following a 0-0 draw on the Lancashire coast.
The cash-happy Cod Army booked their place in the Wembley final on bank holiday Monday but were given a real fright by the Minstermen, who left Highbury with their heads held high.
Ex-City hero Matty Blair’s first-leg goal proved decisive, however, as last night’s hosts clung on for a 1-0 aggregate triumph.
City kicked off with the side that finished Monday’s first leg with Ryan Bowman starting in attack and Michael Coulson on the right flank.
Ryan Brobbel dropped out and, due to injury, was not named on the bench with Sander Puri drafted in as a substitute.
Fleetwood made no changes to their first XI despite having holding midfielder Alan Goodall back from suspension.
Graham Alexander’s men had the first chance of the evening when Josh Morris exchanged passes with David Ball before lifting an eight-yard effort over Nick Pope’s crossbar.
Moments later, Russell Penn fired narrowly over for the Minstermen with a 12-yard half-volley after Keith Lowe had sprinted upfield to get on the end of a Coulson corner.
Pope made the first save of the night on eight minutes, gathering routinely following Conor McLaughlin’s hopeful 30-yard shot.
On-loan Preston striker Iain Hume’s well-struck rising shot then missed the target from 15 yards after Morris’ low left-wing delivery.
City, though, were more than matching their hosts, forcing a string of corners that unsettled home keeper Chris Maxwell.
Calvin Andrew and Adam Reed also combined well to create a 12-yard opening for Coulson, who blasted his shot straight at Maxwell with his effort parried to safety, The hard-working Andrew, meanwhile, headed over from a Ben Davies cross and Lowe also climbed highest in the Cod Army penalty box on 40 minutes and forced Maxwell to punch away under his own crossbar.
Fleetwood had not threatened since the quarter-hour mark but, in first-half stoppage time, Nathan Pond met Morris’ free kick from the left with his head and the ball bounced wide off fellow centre-back Mark Roberts’ shins.
Steven Schumacher also went on to lift an edge-of-the-box effort out of the ground before the interval.
Both sides made a positive start to the second period with Fleetwood having the earliest chances of the half as Antoni Sarcevic headed over at the near post from a Morris corner and McLaughlin’s hopelessly-ambitious 35-yard strike was comfortably gathered by Pope.
Morris also dragged a 20-yard chance wide before a brilliant save by Pope kept his side in the tie.
The on-loan Charlton keeper stretched out his long left arm to push Sarcevic’s well-struck low shot around his post after the ball had broken for the home midfielder in City’s penalty box.
Pond headed over from Morris’ consequent corner.
At the other end, City were playing with plenty of endeavour but Fleetwood, led brilliantly by skipper Pond, continued to defend resolutely with the visitors’ first shot of the half coming from 35 yards as Andrew’s ambitious drive whistled over.
On 83 minutes, Alexander sacrificed midfielder Sarcevic to bring on a third centre back in Ryan Cresswell as he looked to protect the slimmest of advantages.
City continued to press with Coulson blasting well over after referee Scott Duncan played advantage following an edge-of-the-box trip on substitute Ryan Jarvis.
A barnstorming finish then saw chances at both ends with teenage defender Tom Allan thrown on up front and Pope even urged forward for a later corner.
Charlie Taylor drove wide for the home team on 89 minutes, while Jarvis’ low 15 yard drive was caught by a relieved Maxwell before Pope, on the edge of his own penalty box, won a battle of wits as Morris broke clear one-on-one in the fourth minute of added-on time.
Seconds later, home supporters spilled on to the pitch as they celebrated their team reaching Wembley for the first time since 1985.
The Minstermen, meanwhile, can be proud of a second half of the season and one final performance that epitomised the spirit and character of Worthington’s team since the turn of the year.
Fleetwood 0, York City 0
(Fleetwood win 1-0 on aggregate)
Nick Pope 9, Lanre Oyebanjo 8, Keith Lowe 8, John McCombe 9, Ben Davies 8, Michael Coulson 7, Russell Penn 9, Adam Reed 7, Will Hayhurst 7, Calvin Andrew 7, Ryan Bowman 7
Substitutions: Ryan Jarvis (for Bowman, 69), Lewis Montrose (for Reed, 84), Tom Allan (for Hayhurst, 90). Not used: McGurk, Jarvis, Platt, Puri, Ingham.
Star man: Russell Penn - never shirked a challenge, led by example.
Chris Maxwell, Conor McLaughlin, Mark Roberts, Nathan Pond, Charlie Taylor, Matty Blair, Steven Schumacher (Alan Goodall, 75), Antoni Sarcevic (Ryan Cresswell, 83), Josh Morris, Iain Hume (Jon Parkin, 64), David Ball. Subs not used: Stewart Murdoch, Gareth Evans, David Lucas, Stephen Jordan.
Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland).
Booked: McLaughlin 20, Roberts 28, Sarcevic 34, Hayhurst 66.
Sent off: None.
Attendance: 5,194 (1,056 City fans).
Shots on target: Town 3, City 3.
Shots off target: Town 7, City 4.
Corners: Town 5, City 9.
Fouls conceded: Town 8, City 9.
Offsides: Town 0, City 0.