Aldershot Town finished just a point in front of Ebbsfleet United in the Vanarama National League`s regular season, but in the first of a unique new system of play-off eliminators, it is the Kent side who eventually triumphed to take their place in the semi-final on Saturday.
But the tie went all the way in front of the live BT Sport cameras as a crowd of 3,319 at the EBB Stadium saw a tense but entertaining encounter.
Both sides had failed to win their final league matches last weekend, so there was little to indicate who would start as favourites, although of course, home advantage probably put the Shots just ahead.
The game began with both sides seemingly `going for it` and the first half zoomed by with no-one able to break the deadlock.
And having shared a goalless draw the last time the sides met in the league, the chat over the half-time cuppas was that this was going to be an equally tight affair.
However, Ebbsfleet had a great opportunity to break the deadlock 9 minutes into the second half when Danny Kedwell was adjudged to have been brought down by Adam Reynolds in the box.
But Fleet`s top scorer Kedwell was thwarted by a superb save from Lewis Ward from the resulting penalty.
There was a lengthy hold-up in play as Shots sub Jim Kellerman went down holding his shoulder after a challenge and he was unable to continue and was stretchered-off.
It looked like being a repeat of the game on January 20th as the fourth official put up the board to show a massive 9 minutes of stoppage time.
But there was still to be no breakthrough and it was onto extra-time.
After an uneventful first half of overtime, it was the home side who finally managed to break the deadlock in the 109th minute when a long hopeful ball forward turned the Fleet defence and after they had blocked the initial cross, a second came in and Nicke Kabamba glanced a far post header past Nathan Ashmore in the Fleet goal.
It looked as though that was going to be enough to take the Shots through, but in the last minute of extra-time, Dave Winfield – a former Aldershot player – headed the visitors level and it was now down to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, Ward made two fine saves as the Shots went 3-1 up, but he stepped up and struck the post with his penalty and Dean Rance`s fifth counted to send Darry McMahon`s side through 5-4.
Ebbsfleet now go on to face Tranmere Rovers in the semi-final at Prenton Park on Saturday.