Huddersfield Town will meet either Mansfield or Northampton in the Third Division play-off final in Cardiff after staging a remarkable fight back against Lincoln City at the McAlpine Stadium last night.
Two goals in a minute had given the Imps a deserved aggregate lead at half-time but Peter Jackson's young side stormed back to seal their place in the final via a controversial penalty and a well-struck drive from the club captain Rob Edwards seven minutes from time.
"I'm so proud of the way we came back," Jackson said, "and the character we showed was exceptional. I told them I needed another 50 per cent from every one of them at half-time and they gave me that."
After a scrappy first 20 minutes, Lincoln should have scored 10 minutes before the break when Simon Yeo crossed for Marcus Richardson to set up Gary Fletcher but he snatched at the chance.
But three minutes later, the visitors went ahead when Mark Bailey's right-wing cross was dropped by Paul Rachubka under pressure from Richardson and Richard Butcher delightfully lobbed the ball home. No sooner had Huddersfield kicked off, than they were 2-0 down. Richardson set up Bailey who strode forward to fire a low right-foot shot from 16 yards.
If Rachubka had not made a superb save from Yeo's glancing header after Richardson had crossed from the left in injury-time Lincoln would have been out of sight at the break.
The turning point arrived just before the hour when Jon Worthington delivered a towering cross from the right which Andy Booth and Jamie McCombe chased at the far post. The striker stumbled under an innocuous challenge and the referee awarded a goal kick. But after consulting his linesman, he gave a penalty which was converted by Danny Schofield.
Huddersfield went in search of the equaliser and it arrived seven minutes from time when Worthington's mazy run across the area led to Edwards firing home. Lincoln refused to give up and in the 89th minute Yeo was again foiled by Rachubka.
"The penalty was a diabolical decision and the game hinged on it," Keith Alexander, the Lincoln manager, said. "We were 2-0 up and coasting."
Huddersfield Town (3-5-2): Rachubka; Sodje, Mirfin, Yates; Holdsworth, Schofield, Worthington, Edwards, Lloyd; Onuora (McAliskey, 63), Boot. Substitutes not used: Senior, Fowler, Scott, Brown.
Lincoln City (3-4-3): Marriott; McCombe, Bloomer (Green, 84), Futcher; Bailey, Butcher, Gain, Ellison; Fletcher, Richardson (Wilford, 84), Yeo. Substitutes not used: Sedgemore, Sandwich, Weaver.
Referee: M Pike (Cumbria).
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