Heartbreak for Wrexham as Grimsby edge nine-goal play-off semi-final thriller
Luke Waterfall headed a dramatic winner in the penultimate minute of extra time as Grimsby beat Wrexham 5-4 at the Racecourse Ground in a thrilling National League play-off semi-final.
The sides could not be separated in a breathless 90 minutes that featured eight goals, a pair of disallowed efforts, contentious penalty decisions and even a ‘Hand of God’ incident.
Wrexham opened the scoring after 13 minutes when Waterfall was deemed to have brought down Paul Mullin in the box.
Mullin made no mistake with a powerful spot-kick off the underside of the crossbar, but the lead proved short-lived as John McAtee produced a superb finish from outside the box to bring Grimsby level.
Wrexham ended the half frustrated at being denied a second penalty after goalkeeper Max Crocombe clattered into Bryce Hosannah, while both sides saw goals chalked off during the first 45 minutes.
Grimsby went in front two minutes into the second period when Waterfall headed home after Wrexham failed to clear their lines from a corner, but Ben Tozer restored parity just after the hour mark with a back-post header before sending in the long throw that led to Mullin’s ‘Hand of God’ moment two minutes later.
The striker looked at first glance to have headed in from close range, only for slow-motion replays to show more than a hint of an arm in the finish.
Grimsby refused to lie down and were back in front after further headed efforts from Ryan Taylor and Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
Jordan Davies forced extra time with yet another back-post header 10 minutes from time and had penalty appeals waved away in the first additional period, before Waterfall – an ex-Wrexham defender – popped up at the death to send Grimsby into a play-off final against either Solihull Moors or Chesterfield next weekend.
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Incredible game, exciting, frustrating, a true classic! Congrats to Grimsby, your McAtee is one superb player, he is surely destined for the highest leagues. Wrexham, hard luck, you now have another year in which to improve, bring in 3 or 4 new players and push on for automatic promotion next year. Good luck to both teams.