Substitute Tom Beere grabbed a stoppage-time winner as AFC Wimbledon won a dramatic play-off first leg 1-0 against Accrington.
Stanley, the team with the smallest budget in Sky Bet League Two, had stood firm for 90 minutes of a blood and thunder encounter at Kingsmeadow.
But having been denied automatic promotion in the dying seconds of the final day of the season, they suffered more late heartbreak in south London.
Beere swept home the winner with seconds remaining to hand his side a narrow lead going into Wednesday's second leg at the Wham Stadium.
The Dons had finished 10 points behind their visitors and kicked off as underdogs, 28 years to the the day since the old Wimbledon's finest hour, the famous FA Cup final victory over mighty Liverpool.
And the spirit of the Crazy Gang seems to be alive and kicking as the current incarnation attempt to secure promotion to League One for the first time.
There was certainly a hint of old-style Wimbledon about t heir first chance in the sixth minute.
Tom Elliott got his head to a long clearance and Lyle Taylor latched onto the flick-on, but the 21-goal striker dragged his shot across goal and wide.
Elliott headed a Callum Kennedy free-kick narrowly wide, while left-back Kennedy's angled drive was well struck but just off target.
Accrington striker Billy Kee had a goal controversially ruled out at Kingsmeadow earlier this season after ref Trevor Kettle blew for half-time.
It was Kee who had the first sight of goal for the visitors midway through the first half but he glanced a Josh Windass cross wide.
Stanley were then awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area before half-time but Windass, the son of former Hull play-off hero Dean, lifted his shot narrowly over the crossbar.
After the break t he lively Windass attempted to wriggle clear of the Dons backline but his touch was too heavy and all he received for his efforts was a painful collision with Kelle Roos.
Dons keeper Roos got down well to smother Kee's overhead kick and then did even better to touch a snap shot from Stanley sub Tarique Fosu onto a post.
With five minutes remaining Adebayo Akinfenwa crashed a shot onto the near post, as Stanley appeared to have weathered a late storm.
But after another frenetic goalmouth scramble Beere, who has only just returned from a loan spell at Hampton & Richmond, emerged as an unlikely hero when he tucked the ball into the corner to hand the Dons the advantage.