Mansfield Town were dealt a 5-3 penalty shootout defeat by Newport County following a spirited performance in the second leg of their play-off semi-final.
The Stags and the Exiles were unable to be separated during 120 minutes of nail-biting action at One Call Stadium before the penalty shootout loomed large.
Ben Turner, Danny Rose and Tyler Walker all came close for their side but the final result ultimately favoured the visitors.
The teamsheet signalled only a single change from Thursday’s draw in south Wales as Neal Bishop – who sustained a calf injury during the game – was replaced by Will Tomlinson.
Otherwise, the remainder of the starting line-up and substitutes’ bench had been left untouched by David Flitcroft.
It was an even start to proceedings at One Call Stadium as Gethin Jones produced a brilliant piece of defending to deny the visitors an early sight at goal.
This came moments prior to Jacob Mellis whipping a 25-yard free-kick clear of Joe Day’s crossbar.
Josh Sheehan registered the first effort on target when he forced Conrad Logan into a smart, low save that he was able to palm behind for a corner.
But Mansfield aimed to respond in swift fashion – Walker calmly turning away from Mark O’Brien only to be pulled down in the process.
Newport midfielder, Sheehan, then watched his next attempt crash against the stanchion with a volley that had derived courtesy of a late run into the Stags’ penalty area.
Next, Padraig Amond, last Thursday’s goalscorer for the Exlies, spurned a gilt-edged chance from close range as he rolled his effort into the side netting.
Turner then produced an expert block to deny Amond’s following effort past the half-hour mark.
The hosts continued to threaten and, soon after, they were denied only by the frame of Logan’s goal before the Stags ‘keeper was able to claim during a goalmouth scramble.
The half drew to a close as Amond, with another chance, diverted a header clear of Logan’s bar.
And with less than two minutes elapsed, both Rose and Walker had fired efforts towards goal, albeit off target.
The Stags faithful responded by raising the noise levels inside the One Call as both sides searched for the potentially-decisive opener.
At the opposite end, Logan was quickly down to claim O’Brien’s effort only to find the offside flag in the air.
Alex MacDonald was soon involved in a wide position – whipping a strong ball into the middle that Walker was unable to direct goalwards.
On the hour mark, Scot Bennett rattled Logan’s bar with a superb long-range effort exactly a minute before Sheehan forced another save from the Mansfield shot-stopper.
Half-time substitute Mal Benning then assumed responsibility of the Stags’ latest set-piece – from only 19 yards out – but could only curl the ball into the midriff of Day.
The following one, though, almost reared the ultimate prize.
Turner met Benning’s neat delivery in the middle, and when his initial header was saved by Day, the recycled follow-up was held to ease any pressure the visitors were suddenly experiencing.
The pressure was increased a notch thereafter when Walker’s bouncing half-volley had Day scrambling to save.
Mansfield’s skipper, Krystian Pearce, rushed to smother a powerful drive struck by Sheehan to keep Newport at bay.
But the hosts spurned a massive opportunity to take the lead themselves, on 85 minutes.
Walker profited from Hamilton’s individual battle with Regan Poole, however, the striker rifled his chance just inches wide of the upright.
His partner in attack, Rose, then glanced a header wide himself as Mansfield upped the ante heading into the dying embers of regular time.
The Stags contingent demonstrated their fighting spirit in abundance as the clock ticked towards full time, and the tie would require extra time following a stalemate at the final whistle.
Into the first period of extra time, Hamilton found himself as he did to notch the opener in the first leg, but this time he fires over from an acute angle.
The flying winger was presented with a one-on-one just five minutes later but was unable to keep his powerful strike down.
And in the 105th minute, the home crowd and players alike were left bewildered.
Walker had his initial effort thwarted by Day before the rebound fell to Rose who watched his subsequent strike hooked away on the goal line.
Soon after, MacDonald’s powerful drive from distance was deflected away to safety as it looked to be troubling the Exlies’ ‘keeper.
The second half of extra time began in the same tense manner as the first with Hamilton winning a corner for his side.
And it almost proved crucial when Walker flicked wide after being left to roam.
Newport were awarded a free-kick on the near side in the dying embers, yet they were unable to muster a chance to test Logan.
Neither side were able to conjure the decisive moment as the second leg of Sunday’s Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final went the distance.
It was all-square at 2-2 in the shootout before Mansfield’s top scorer, Walker, had his well-struck penalty saved by Day.
The visitors continued their string of impeccable spot-kicks as they booked their place at Wembley with a 5-3 win in the end.
STAGS XI: Logan (GK), Pearce ©, MacDonald, Mellis (Atkinson 91’), Tomlinson (Benning 46’), Sweeney, Walker, Jones (Grant 120’), Hamilton, Turner, Rose (Ajose 105’).
SUBS NOT USED: J. Smith (GK), Khan, A. Smith.
NEWPORT COUNTY XI: Day (GK), Butler (McKirdy 120’), Labadie (Azeez 76’, McKirdy 120’), Willmott, Amond, Matt, Sheehan (Dolan 120’), Bennett, O’Brien ©, Poole, Demetriou.
SUBS NOT USED: Pipe, Marsh-Brown, Randall, Crofts.
REFEREE: Michael Salisbury.
ASSISTANTS: Matthew Lee & Anthony Da Costa.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Peter Wright.
ATTENDANCE: 7,361 (1,118 away)