The 2006 play-off jinx was shattered last night when Grimsby Town recorded the first home win of this season's series of matches by beating Lincoln City in the 100th derby between the two clubs.
But unless their appeal is successful, Grimsby will have to do without their top scorer Gary Jones after he was sent off in stoppage time for elbowing the Lincoln central defender Gareth McAuley.
After the Imps had cancelled out Grimsby's 1-0 first-leg lead by half-time through Marvin Robinson's header, the home side replied with second-half goals from the former-Lincoln defender Ben Futcher and Jones and will now meet Wycombe Wanderers or Cheltenham Town at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 28 May.
"Lincoln perhaps put us out of our stride at the start but we remained calm and the second-half seemed almost to go to plan," said the Grimsby manager, Russell Slade.
"The only negative was the sending off. There was no intent at all to do damage by Gary and we will be appealing because to lose your 17-goal striker in a final is a blow."
Grimsby fashioned the first goal-scoring opportunity after nine minutes. Tom Newey delivered a teasing cross to the far post but Jones failed to direct his header goalwards.
The Mariners came close after 19 minutes when Newey stepped up to curl a delightful left-foot effort narrowly wide of Alan Marriott's left-hand post.
Lincoln took the lead when Rob Jones was off the field receiving treatment for a head wound in the 27th minute. Robinson made the most of his absence by heading home Scott Kerr's well-flighted free kick.
When Newey's cross from the right was headed back across goal by Jones on the hour, substitute Futcher stabbed the ball home from close range and despite strong Lincoln pressure, Grimsby held out before Jones headed home Curtis Woodhouse's free kick from the left nine minutes from time.
"I think we were poor from start to finish in a lot of our play," said the Lincoln manager, Keith Alexander.
"It's our fourth unsuccessful year in the play-offs but it's better than being bottom of the League isn't it?"
Grimsby Town (4-4-2): Mildenhall; Croft, Whittle, R Jones (Futcher, 28), Newey; Cohen (Reddy, 59), Bolland, Parkinson, Woodhouse; Mendes (Toner, 76), G Jones. Substitutes not used: Goodfellow, Kalala.
Lincoln City (3-4-3): Marriott; McCombe (Mayo, 86), Morgan, McAuley; Beevers (Green, 74), Brown, Kerr (Frecklington, 77), Hughes; Robinson, Forrester, Yeo. Substitutes not used: Birch, Cryan.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).Reuse content