The fact the Ernesiders needed such a dramatic intervention was down to their profligate shooting, as they kicked an astonishing 20 wides.
“The wide tally speaks for itself and a lot of those were from good scoring positions” groaned manager Peter Canavan. “It is the one aspect of our game I was disappointed with – that we didn’t finish them off much earlier when we had the opportunities.”
Denis Glennon had a point on the board from the opening Westmeath attack but Seán Quigley equalised from a free and followed up with two excellent scores from play.
Conor Quigley’s kick from distance found the net in the 13th minute as his brother made a nuisance of himself when jumping with Gary Connaughton and Kieran Gavin.
Westmeath kicked three of the next four points but their defence was being breached all too easily and Damian Kelly was found in oceans of space before finishing calmly to the corner of the net in the 25th minute.
It looked like the momentum had switched Westmeath’s way when Chris Snow tripped Denis Glennon 10 minutes into the second half and Heslin slotted the resulting penalty to bring the sides level.
Fermanagh continued to pour forward though and Ryan Jones was able to run into another big gap before blasting a brilliant goal towards the end of the third quarter.
Fermanagh soon went five points clear but Callum McCormack, Denis Corroon and John Heslin dragged Westmeath back into it, despite the 63rd minute dismissal of Kieran Martin for a second yellow card.
McCormack ballooned over when it looked easier to goal but made up for it with an equalising point after a strong shoulder by Corroon forced a turnover.
There was still time for Fermanagh though and Woods stormed forward in the second minute of injury-time to snatch the victory.
Scorers for Fermanagh: S Quigley 0-6(4fs); D Kelly 1-1; C Quigley, R Jones 1-0 each; T Corrigan 0-2, J Woods 0-1.
Scorers for Westmeath: J Heslin 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-4fs); D Corroon, C McCormack (1 45) 0-3 each; D Glennon, G Egan 0-2 each.
Subs for Fermanagh: R Corrigan for C Quigley (ht); D Kille for R Corrigan (55); B Owens for McGrath (66); P Ward for T Corrigan (66); S Lyons for O’Brien (66-70).
Subs for Westmeath: D Dolan for Smith (46); C Curley for Duffy (68).
FERMANAGH: C Snow, J Woods, B Cox, D Kelly, D McCusker, R McCluskey, M O’Brien, E Donnelly, M McGrath, T McElroy, S McCabe, R Jones, T Corrigan, S Quigley, C Quigley.
WESTMEATH: G Connaughton, M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire; J Gaffey, P Sharry, J Dolan, J Heslin, D Duffy, K Martin, C McCormack, D Corroon, G Egan, L Smith, D Glennon.
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).