Warrington Town’s season ended in the cruellest fashion as Kings Lynn struck late in the second half of extra time to claim victory and secure promotion to the Vanarama Conference North.
The visitors took the lead in the first half through Jordan Richards, only for Ben Garrity to equaliser three minutes later.
Garrity emphatically headed home his second midway through the second period, but with time running out, Adam Marriott scored from the penalty spot to take the game to extra time.
Both sides pushed for an elusive winner, and with 115 minutes gone, Michael Gash drilled beyond Tony McMillan to secure victory for the East Anglian side, defying the pre-match sports betting online.
Paul Carden was forced into one change ahead of the contest. After Jack Dunn failed a fitness test prior to kick-off, Dylan Vassallo started on the left, with Connor McCarthy taking the remaining spot on the bench.
In was a typically cagey start given the magnitude of the occasion. Adam Marriott and Gray both had half-chances in the opening 10 minutes – the latter beaten to a near-post header by the punch of the Linnets keeper – but neither could get a clear sight of goal.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead just after the 15-minute mark. A floated Ross Barrow cross from the left was headed out of danger by Mark Roberts, only for Richards to come charging onto the ball on the edge of the area and hit a firm shot into the bottom corner.
As had been the case in their previous play-off clashes this season, the Yellows hit back in emphatic fashion just two minutes later. Alex Whittle and Gray did well to work space on the left corner of the area, the talismanic striker floated a cross to the back-post and Garrity leapt highest to power home from close-range.
The goal seemed to spur the hosts on, and just three minutes later, Jack Mackreth almost had a chance to unleash from inside the area, only for Frazer Blake-Tracy to produce a superb recovery tackle to halt him in his tracks.
As the half wore on, both sides continued to attack with intent in the hope of breaking the deadlock before half-time. A superb Robbie Evans ball picked out Whittle on the left, but his low cross was scuffed back to his keeper unconvincingly by Michael Clunan.
Both sides pushed for a winner as half-time approached, and it was the hosts who came the closest. Vassallo did superbly to dispossess Clunan in his own half and laid it off to Mackreth, but the winger’s touch was heavy, allowing Street to come off his line and smother.
The visitors started the second half brightly and could’ve re-taken the lead twice, but McMillan was in the right place to firstly save Marriott’s drilled effort before catching an attempted lob by Lynn captain Clunan.
After fending off the early pressure, Warrington took the lead 15 minutes into the second half. In a near-identical goal to one scored against Nantwich Town in the second half, Vassallo floated a corner into the area, Garrity peeled away from his man and dispatched a header into the top corner.
Chances were at a premium as the game approached full-time, with substitute Josh Amis firing into the side-netting and Blake-Tracy hitting a free-kick well wide at the other end.
However, Kings Lynn did equalise with four minutes remaining, courtesy of the penalty spot. After Robbie Evans brought down Marriott inside the area, the striker stepped up and sent McMillan the wrong way to take the game to extra time.
In the first period of extra time, both sides had chances to find the winner. At one end, Ryan Hawkins saw his deflected drive from the edge of the area tipped behind by McMillan, before Street thwarted Amis’ goal-bound effort after he latched onto Marcus Cusani’s flicked header.
The game looked destined to be heading for penalties, but Kings Lynn managed to find a winner in the cruellest fashion with five minutes of the game left. After seeing his first shot blocked, Michael Gash cut back onto his right foot and curled a shot into the bottom corner.
With both sides out on their feet, Warrington pushed for an equaliser, but they couldn’t muster a clear chance to work Street, meaning that Kings Lynn booked their spot in the Vanarama Conference North.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Beeley, Raven, Roberts, Whittle, Garrity, Evans, Mackreth (Cusani 94), Dixon (Amis 53), Vassallo, Gray (Benjamin 82)
Subs not used: Duggan, McCarthy
Kings Lynn Town: Street, Barrows (Jones 39), Blake-Tracy, Jarvis (Limb 79), Fryatt, McAuley, Clunan, Richards, Gash, Marriott, Henderson (Hawkins 65)
Subs not used: Parker, Mellors-Blair