Plenty of positives to take from another memorable campaign
'SO NEAR yet so far' is the story of the season for Cheltenham Town, as the Robins fell magnanimously at the hands of Northampton in their League Two play-off semi-final.
After losing the first leg 1-0 at Northampton, many would have fancied Mark Yates' men in the second leg at Whaddon Road in front of almost 6,000 supporters.
However, his close friend and tennis partner Aidy Boothroyd was to serve up a 1-0 away win, ensuring that the Robins remain in League Two for a fifth successive season.
Defenders Steve Elliott and Michael Hector defended manfully against Adebayo Akinfenwa and the midfield passed the ball with noticeable fluidity.
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On 15 minutes, the Robins had a route back into the tie, as Russell Penn was tripped and a penalty was awarded.
Marlon Pack's resulting penalty was saved by Cobblers goalkeeper Lee Nicholls, a sad way to end an impressive three seasons at Whaddon Road.
Nicholls ultimately made the difference for Northampton, denying Paul Benson, Darryl Duffy and a multitude of others.
It seemed inevitable that Northampton would have opportunities, and in truth they only needed to take one of them.
Luke Guttridge's sumptuous volley sparked delirium in the away end, giving Robins keeper Scott Brown no chance from 25 yards.
The second half saw Cheltenham defend irreproachably, but the problem, as it has been all season, was an inability to convert opportunities into goals.
After Kaid Mohamed's header came crashing back of the crossbar, it was evident that it wasn't going to our day.
It feels like an age ago that I was stood in Evesham's ground for our first pre-season friendly with fellow supporters, wondering what this season would bring.
Despite not achieving our ultimate goal of promotion, there are plenty of positives to take from what has been yet another memorable campaign for Cheltenham Town.
Finances continue to blossom, with four televised games this season providing invaluable income, and there have been moments to savour, including playing Everton in the FA Cup as well as defeating Martin Allen's Gillingham at Whaddon Road.
The problem throughout this season has been a lack of goals, with Mark Yates at times indecisive and unable to pick a 'best' XI.
Nevertheless, as supporters we have again seen a high-calibre squad, including arguably the best goalkeeper and midfielder in the division in Scott Brown and Marlon Pack.
Far from being fickle and impatient, as perceived by some, the general stoicism of our following is both a benefit and a curse.
With time for the dust to settle and a chance to reflect, we can all agree that it has been yet another fantastic season.
We have again exceeded the predictions of many, with many moments to treasure along the way.
If we keep the faith and trust in Mark Yates, there is no reason why we cannot make it third time lucky next season.