LINCOLN might herald the winning of every corner with an air-raid siren, but York City sub Scott Fenwick dropped the biggest bombshell at Sincil Bank.
Despite also belting out songs about the RAF, it was the home crowd’s Wembley dreams that were shot down in flames when Fenwick converted his extra-time penalty to secure the underdogs a 3-2 aggregate FA Trophy semi-final victory.
The spot kick was City’s only shot on target during 120 minutes of football, but Gary Mills’ men emerged triumphant from their two-legged war of attrition against the table-topping Imps.
Having defeated Premier League Burnley, as well as Championship duo Brighton and Ipswich on their way to a historic FA Cup quarter-final appearance this season, Danny Cowley’s side could not overcome the Minstermen with Fenwick’s knockout blow agonisingly extending their 133-year wait for an outing on the world-famous hallowed turf.
The former Newcastle Benfield, Durham City and Dunston UTS striker’s 12-yard conversion could also be worth £200,000 for the cash-hemorrhaging victors, after it cancelled out home centre-back Sean Raggett’s 66th-minute opener for the hosts.
Fenwick’s goal also crowned a terrific display by the Minstermen who, despite their minimal goal threat, never allowed the National League’s best team to build up a head of steam in a contest where the visitors expertly slowed down the tempo during key moments of the game and played the match, rather than the occasion.
Lining up with a seemingly attack-orientated starting XI, Mills asked Aidan Connolly and Amari Morgan-Smith to both drop into deeper positions to help their midfield team-mates. As in the first leg, the City boss then chose the exact right times to introduce his replacements with Adriano Moke running the hosts’ tiring back four ragged and stretching the game with regular willing charges forward following his 71st-minute arrival.
Fenwick also gave the team extra attacking impetus after Morgan-Smith and Vadaine Oliver were both unable to continue.
Earlier, Lincoln had enjoyed the better of the first-half proceedings without ever laying siege to the home goal for a sustained period.
On eight minutes, Kyle Letheren pushed Alan Power’s curling 25-yard shot around his left-hand upright and, from Terry Hawkridge’s resulting corner, Matt Rhead’s downward header teed up a close-range chance for the stretching Raggett, who stabbed wide.
Letheren also clawed away Luke Waterfall’s header from another Hawkridge flag kick, while Rhead shot into the sidenetting following Bradley Wood’s right-wing throw-in.
The visitors, meanwhile, mustered their first goal of the attempt on 41 minutes, but Asa Hall cleared the away end with his wayward 20-yard drive.
But, after Nathan Arnold had drilled wide from the edge of the box, Morgan-Smith went closer with a long-range strike on the stroke of half-time.
In the second half, Parkin missed the target from just outside the penalty area with one flick off the outside of his boot before Hamza Bencherif’s weak header might have been punished by Lee Angol but, although his scuffed shot beat Letheren, it was easily caught and cleared by covering defender Dan Parslow before crossing the line.
Letheren was then back in action to push behind a curling Josh Ginnelly effort before Raggett opened the scoring on the afternoon.
A left-wing corner by Ginnelly was met in the air by Waterfall at the far post and, after he had guided the ball back into the six-yard box, Raggett headed in off Letheren’s right-hand post.
City refused to cave in, though, with Sean Newton seeing a free kick deflected wide, before Ginnelly fired out of the ground at the other end.
Billy Knott’s hopeful shot from distance was also too high before ex-Minsterman Elliott Whitehouse squandered the best chance to wrap up matters in normal time on 89 minutes.
Racing on to Rhead’s downward header, he blasted wide of an exposed Letheren from eight yards.
After Arnold had lifted another attempt on to the roof of the stand, extra-time was signalled.
The first period had passed with little incident, as Knott, Raggett and Angol all failed to test Letheren with long-range shots, before Bencherif blasted a low 15-yard drive at the diving Waterfall in the 105th and final minute.
Despite the ball appearing to strike the home defender’s chest, referee Ben Toner was summoned for a substantial chat with his assistant and, after being made aware of an apparent handball offence, pointed to the spot.
Fenwick, with other contenders such as Newton, Parkin and Hall on the pitch, showed great bravery, when also taking into account his difficult campaign, to assume the spot-kicking responsibility and firmly found Paul Farman’s bottom-right corner, despite the Imps keeping guessing the correct way and diving quickly in that direction.
City’s players joined in raucous celebrations with the 700-strong away following behind the goal with one pitch-invading supporter escorted out of the ground, but only after selling the pursuing stewards several dummies.
A deflated and defeated Lincoln could not muster a comeback during the second period of extra-time, with Ginnelly smacking a free kick off target and Arnold dragging a diagonal chance across the face of goal.
City, meanwhile, could even afford to mess up a four-on-two situation when Parkin fed an overlapping Danny Holmes, only for his shot to be deflected wide.
Seconds later, the final whistle sparked jubilant celebrations for the visitors, who must now switch their full focus to the battle for league survival before preparing for a May 21 final against Macclesfield and ex-Bootham Crescent trio Scott Flinders, John McCombe and Luke Summerfield.
Kyle Letheren; Shaun Rooney, Hamza Bencherif, Dan Parslow; Simon Heslop, Asa Hall, Aidan Connolly (Adriano Moke, 71), Amari Morgan-Smith (Scott Fenwick, 85), Sean Newton; Jon Parkin, Vadaine Oliver (Danny Holmes, 86). Subs not used: Luke Simpson, Tyler Walton.
Paul Farman, Bradley Wood (Elliott Whitehouse, 70), Luke Waterfall, Sean Raggett, Ricardo Calder (Josh Ginnelly, 58), Nathan Arnold, Alan Power (Billy Knott, 62), Alex Woodyard, Terry Hawkridge, Matt Rhead, Lee Angol. Subs not used: Adam Marriott, Jonny Margetts.
Lincoln star man: Rhead – teed up great chances for Raggett and Whitehouse
Referee: Ben Toner rating: 5/10 – started well but caught up in occasion and eight bookings was excessive
Booked: Power 14, Rhead 30, Morgan-Smith 36, Oliver 42, Raggett 73, Ginnelly 102, Waterfall 105, Fenwick 111
Attendance: 8,409 (694 from City)
Shots on target: Lincoln 5, City 1
Shots off target: Lincoln 11, City 5
Corners: Lincoln 11, City 3
Fouls conceded: Lincoln 15, City 19
Offside: Lincoln 3, City 1