Exeter deserved to win, says Lincoln boss Danny Cowley

Danny Cowley was disappointed that Lincoln did not get some big decisions in the League Two play-off defeat to Exeter but admits the Grecians were the better side

Lincoln boss Danny Cowley was left frustrated with some of the decisions that went against his side, but admits Exeter were the better team in their play-off semi-final.

After a goalless draw in the first leg, Exeter prevailed 3-1 in the second at St James Park on Thursday night to book their spot at Wembley.

“The best team won tonight,” said Cowley. “We credit Exeter, they’re a good club with a fantastic manager and a really good group of players.

“Technically they were excellent tonight. We were disappointed with a couple of the decisions but ultimately if we’re honest with ourselves we came up a little bit short.”

Highlights of the Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Exeter and Lincoln

Cowley did, however, bemoan the referee’s decision to not award a penalty for his side after Matt Rhead was on the end of a rough challenge from Jordan Moore-Taylor in the closing stages, while his side were also disallowed a goal in the first half when Rhead handled the ball in the build-up to Elliot Whitehouse’s strike.

“It’s 100 per cent a penalty [on Rhead],” said Cowley. “And the [disallowed] goal in the first half is a push on Rhead as well, it’s a handball from him but he was pushed. And the fact the referee hasn’t given it but the linesman has and he’s 70 yards away.

“It’s difficult because we haven’t just fought all season for this, we’ve fought all our lives to be in this position and some key decisions have gone against us.”

Cowley, however, was proud of the performance of his side this season in their first campaign back in the Football League.

“We were a million miles from Exeter last year and I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made this year,” he said. “We now have a better understanding of this league and what’s required in it. We have to dust ourselves down and use the frustrations from tonight to drive us next year.”