A left-footed strike from Ryan Bowman in extra time sent Exeter City to Wembley after a manic second-leg at St James Park.
Aaron Martin and Jayden Richardson had taken City 2-1 up on aggregate, before a goal from Courtney Senior sent the match to extra time, before Ryan’s strike ultimately won the game for the Grecians.
City boss Matt Taylor made four changes to the side that started the first leg in Essex, with Jonny Maxted, Alex Fisher, Jayden Richardson and Archie Collins all starting the game.
Lewis Ward, Jack Sparkes and Nigel Atangana all returned to the bench, while Lee Martin’s injury sustained in the first leg kept him out of the squad.
City started well and were level in the tie after just 10 minutes as Aaron Martin converted following blocks from efforts by Alex Fisher and Jake Taylor.
The City defender had a lot to do from inside the box, but finished well to level the tie early on. It was a bright start from City and they were unlucky not to create a chance to go ahead after 19 minutes when Fisher’s header narrowly evaded the onrushing Ryan Bowman, although the Colchester defence were able to deal with the danger.
A free-kick conceded by Cohen Bramall on the edge of the Colchester box presented a shooting opportunity for Randell Williams, and he forced a terrific save out of Dean Gerken with 23 minutes on the clock with an effort aiming for the goalkeeper’s top left corner.
Maxted was then called upon to make a fine save on 40 minutes as Norris flicked a header goalward, but the Grecian goalkeeper got two strong fists to the ball to punch it away. City had flown out of the blocks so it was unsurprising to see Colchester grow into the game as the half went on.
Just before half-time, Law released Williams on the counter and City were within inches of a second goal, as Williams’ effort curled agonisingly wide of Gerken’s goal in the last meaningful act of the half.
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