Wycombe Wanderers withstood a brave display from Fleetwood Town to reach the League One play-off final.
The Chairboys drew the second leg 2-2 at Adams Park to progress to Wembley and face Oxford United next Monday after winning 6-3 on aggregate.
Fleetwood made an ideal start as they tried to chip away at their 4-1 first-leg deficit with a Danny Andrew first-half strike but Fred Onyedinma restored Wycombe’s three-goal cushion early in the second half.
Despite Fleetwood regaining the lead on the night with a Ched Evans penalty they failed to convert any more chances to overhaul Wycombe’s aggregate lead and Onyedinma added a second in stoppage time – an equaliser on the night – to end the fightback.
The result means Wycombe are one win away from reaching the English second tier for the first time.
They will face their Thames Valley neighbours from just up the M40 in the final, after the U’s narrowly beat Portsmouth on penalties in the other semi-final which finished 2-2 on aggregate after extra time.
Barton’s Fleetwood kept at arm’s length
Despite holding a 4-1 aggregate lead from Friday’s first leg at Highbury, Wycombe were hit by a determined Fleetwood from the start.
Their nerves would have been jittering when left-back Andrew gave Fleetwood a chance of overhauling the deficit with the opener.
A superb left-foot drive from the edge of the penalty area beat Ryan Allsop to his right after the hosts failed to fully clear a Wes Burns cross.
Pressure continued to be exerted from Joey Barton’s side as a Barrie McKay goalbound shot from distance struck the right hand of Wycombe centre-back Anthony Stewart.
Referee Darren Bond waved away appeals for a penalty despite Fleetwood seeming to have a case.
But early in the second half Wycombe restored their three-goal aggregate advantage when Onyedinma was gifted an equaliser.
Harry Souttar chose to keep the ball alive in his own penalty area rather than let it run out of play after Onyedinma’s initial attacking run, but the centre-back’s poor touch only played it straight back into the forward’s path and he made no mistake from six yards out.
Fleetwood still had some fight and on the hour, Joe Jacobson fouled McKay just inside the area as he tried to latch on to a Glenn Whelan through ball and a penalty was given.
Evans added to his first-leg spot-kick by sending Allsop the wrong way and bringing it back to 5-3 on aggregate.
That pressure continued right into the closing stages and Evans almost brought his side back to within a goal, only to see his free header from seven yards out palmed behind by Allsop low down for a corner.
But as the Cod Army pushed and pushed, Onyedinma’s pace and trickery struck again on the break with a calmly taken finish across goal when played through.
Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth:
“I can’t thank the boys enough, their efforts have just been phenomenal all week, all four weeks since they got back from lockdown all they’ve been focusing on doing is being their best and I asked them to be better than they were on Friday.
“It was a tough ask but they’ve defended unbelievably against what I would say is the best away footballing team we’ve had down here all season.”
“We defended really well, it’s about those headers, those moments in front of your own goal that you’ll die for to defend and I’ve got this pack that will die for each other out there.”
Fleetwood manager Joey Barton told BBC Radio Lancashire:
“I asked the lads to respond and give a good account of themselves and I thought they did that.
“First leg the damage was done really and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb, but I thought that performance really showed how tight-knit we are as a group and we’ll come back stronger.
“Over two legs, Wycombe deserved to go through finding the back of the net six times and you can’t begrudge that.
“We’ve to focus on all the strides we’ve made in the past two seasons and push this club on. This will be part of our learning and I believe the style of football we play will take us a lot further in the game than others.”