THERE was heartbreak for Robins fans as Cheltenham’s promotion dream was shattered by Northampton Town last night.
It all ended in tears for Mark Yates’ men who needed a win to set up a Wembley play-off final against Bradford. They succumbed 1-0 to the Cobblers on the night and 2-0 on aggregate.
A packed crowd just shy of 6,000, including more than 1,500 travelling fans, roared on their heroes in a cauldron of an atmosphere.
But several gilt-edged chances went begging for the Robins, including a crucial penalty miss by star player Marlon Pack, and the chances of a grand finale to the season slipped away.
Disappointed fans trudged home, cursing an inability to put the ball in the back of the net for wrecking their hopes of a big day out at Wembley.
“It just wasn’t our day,” said Antoine Thompson, 26. “We had a lot of chances but we didn’t get that bit of luck we needed.
“We hit the crossbar, missed a penalty and did just about everything apart from score.
“It would have been great for the fans to have another trip to Wembley so it’s a shame. But we’ll be back another year.”
Under clear blue skies and bright sunshine, the Robins’ faithful willed their team on to overturn the first-leg deficit of 1-0. But it was not to be.
Asif Laldin, 22, spoke for many Robins fans when he voiced frustration at the penalty miss.
“We just couldn’t score,” he said. “It could have all been so different if Pack had put that penalty away in the first half.
“In the end I don’t think we can have too many complaints.”
The play-off semi-final defeat means there will be no lucrative trip to Wembley which could have boosted the club’s finances. Instead it is Northampton who will contest the prize of promotion to League One with Bradford on May 18.
Mary Finchley, 67, from Charlton Kings, said: “It’s a shame because we could have done with the money.
“Big days out at Wembley are why you follow a club like Cheltenham but you can’t get there every year.”
Chris Boulton, 28, from Hester’s Way, a lifelong Robins fan, blamed a lack of quality.
“I’m gutted,” he said. “We weren’t good enough though and didn’t vary our play enough. I can only see Bradford winning in the playoff final.”
Youngster Rupert O’Sullivan, nine, who plays for Leckhampton Rovers Football Club, found positives in the performance and vowed not to let the setback get him down.
“It’s disappointing but I thought overall we played quite well,” he said.
“They needed a little bit of luck and just didn’t get it.
“But I’ll still be coming back to support the Robins in future – even if it means we are still in League Two.”