Grimsby Town secured another dramatic extra-time win to shatter Wrexham’s dreams of National League promotion.
Paul Mullin’s penalty gave Wrexham the lead but John McAtee levelled, with Luke Waterfall putting Grimsby ahead.
Ben Tozer and Mullin made it 3-2 and although Ryan Taylor and Mani Dieseruvwe restored Grimsby’s advantage, Jordan Davies equalised.
Waterfall scored a 119th-winner for Grimsby, who had beaten Notts County in extra-time in the play-off eliminator.
Grimsby will now face Solihull Moors or Chesterfield in the final at West Ham’s London Stadium on Sunday, 5 June.
The Mariners are now 90 minutes away from a swift return to League Two, while Wrexham’s absence from the EFL will now extend to a 15th season.
Wrexham went into the game on the back of two defeats – being beaten at Dagenham and Redbridge on the final day of the regular National League season as they lost out to Stockport County for the title, and then losing the FA Trophy final to Bromley.
Manager Phil Parkinson wanted his players to use their Wembley disappointment to inspire them against a Grimsby side buoyed by a dramatic comeback in the eliminator at Notts County, in which Dieseruvwe’s goal deep in extra time secured victory.
Mariners boss Paul Hurst said his side arrived at the Racecourse as underdogs, with Wrexham having finished the regular season 11 points ahead of them and losing only once at the Racecourse during the campaign.
Grimsby made the better start and had the ball in the back of the net after four minutes through McAtee’s strike but the goal was ruled out for offside, while another attack led to a corner from which Ryan Taylor headed over the crossbar.
Within a minute the home side’s first meaningful attack resulted in a penalty after Mullin was brought down by former Dragons defender Waterfall.
Wrexham’s top scorer – who hit 26 league goals during the regular campaign – blasted his kick info the roof of the net past Max Crocombe.
But amid home fans’ celebrations, Grimsby responded immediately as out of nowhere McAtee’s stunning 25-yard shot levelled the scores.
There was no let-up in the game as a shot from Dragons full-back Bryce Hosannah was turned away by Crocombe, while Mullin had a goal disallowed during a good spell for the home side.
Crocombe also made a fine save when the ball deflected off the head of his own defender, Andy Smith, while Wrexham appeals for another penalty for a foul on Hosannah fell on deaf ears.
Grimsby came out at the start of the second half in a similar vein to how they had begun the game, as McAtee forced Christian Dibble into saving with his legs before the keeper had to be at full stretch to deny Harry Clifton.
The visitors continued to press and a cross from the right was met by Waterfall at the far post for his eighth goal of the season.
Hurst’s men had looked far more composed than their hosts and the more likely to score with chances for Clifton, Ben Fox and Danny Amos.
The game was to turn on its head with two goals in a space of a minute which saw Wrexham regain the lead.
From Luke Young’s corner, Tozer headed home at the far post to bring the home side level and two minutes later Mullin netted following Ollie Palmer’s flick-on.
Just at it seemed Wrexham were on top, Grimsby once again hit back with Taylor’s diving header making it 3-3, before substitute semi-final hero Dieseruvwe’s header put them in front.
But another twist in the tale saw Davies head home Young’s corner for the home side and despite chances for Palmer and Callum McFadzean, the game went into extra time.
Both teams toiled during a tense extra time, which saw Grimsby substitute Tristan Abrahams firing into the side netting before Waterfall’s header from Jordan Cropper’s throw-in won it for Hurst’s men.
- Live Text
- 8YoungBooked at 98mins
- 15FrenchSubstituted forJarvisat 120′minutes
- 32CleworthSubstituted forO’Connorat 91′minutes
- 6TozerBooked at 45mins
- 17HosannahSubstituted forMcAlindenat 73′minutes
- 35PalmerBooked at 105minsSubstituted forHydeat 105′minutes
- 6WaterfallBooked at 28mins
- 22AmosBooked at 24minsSubstituted forPearsonat 90′minutes
- 18Esteves Sousa
- 28HolohanSubstituted forRaikhyat 102′minutes
- 10McAteeSubstituted forAbrahamsat 87′minutes
- 29TaylorBooked at 36minsSubstituted forDieseruvweat 75′minutes
- Adam Herczeg
Match ends, Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 5.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 5.
Substitution, Wrexham. Daniel Jarvis replaces Tyler French.
Goal! Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 5. Luke Waterfall (Grimsby Town).
Second Half Extra Time begins Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 4.
First Half Extra Time ends, Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 4.
Substitution, Wrexham. Jake Hyde replaces Ollie Palmer.
Ollie Palmer (Wrexham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Substitution, Grimsby Town. Arjan Raikhy replaces Gavan Holohan.
Luke Young (Wrexham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Substitution, Wrexham. Thomas O’Connor replaces Max Cleworth.
First Half Extra Time begins Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 4.
Substitution, Grimsby Town. Shaun Pearson replaces Danny Amos.
Second Half ends, Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 4.
Substitution, Grimsby Town. Tristan Abrahams replaces John McAtee.
Goal! Wrexham 4, Grimsby Town 4. Jordan Davies (Wrexham).
Goal! Wrexham 3, Grimsby Town 4. Emmanuel Dieseruvwe (Grimsby Town).
Substitution, Grimsby Town. Emmanuel Dieseruvwe replaces Ryan Taylor.
Substitution, Wrexham. Liam McAlinden replaces Bryce Hosannah.
Goal! Wrexham 3, Grimsby Town 3. Ryan Taylor (Grimsby Town).