After a season long of football in non-league's highest tier just 90 minutes separated Bristol Rovers and Grimsby Town for a return to the Football League. For Rovers, they would join City rivals Robins in gaining promotion after they romped home to the League One title whilst bouncing back instantly after finding themselves relegated into the Vanarama Conference twelve months ago...
Bristol Rovers 1 Grimsby Town 1
Sunday, 17 May 2015 - Conference Play-Off Final
It had been a long season for the Pirates who (after starting the season against Grimsby) picked up just one point in three matches before going on an amazing 20 game unbeaten run to see the season end falling short of a deserved automatic spot on the final day of the regular league season.
Grimsby, who have been a non-league side since 2010 have there fair share of an argument in claiming a promotion win fall. They beat Alfreton Town by seven goals without reply and 6-1 away from home at Gatehead along the way but this defeat marks there third successive failure in the Play-Offs and will no doubt be looking for Champions status next time round.
Despite coming close it wasn't Grimsby's day in front of a record Conference final crowd of 47,029 but they looked set to storm there way through the promotion door when they took the lead inside 2 minutes when Lenell John-Lewis had a stroke of luck when his shot, which had been saved by the keeper bounced off his head and trickled into the goal past a stretching Will Puddy.
With half hour almost gone on the Wembley clock Rovers levelled through Ellis Harrison who smashed home from close range; 1-1. After a tense yet goalless second half extra-time prevailed and Lee Mansell became hero of the hour with his winning spot kick after Jon-Paul Pitman blazed his effort over the bar.
Prior to Rovers leveller Puddy had suffered a major scare when he looked to have handled Ollie Palmer's shot outside the area but escaped with just a yellow card to his name.
It was either a lack in his keeper's ability or a shrewd genius of a substitution by Darrell Clark who like the Netherlands in last year's World Cup opted - with nine minutes of extra-time remaining to change keepers with Steve Middlehall replacing Puddy to face his former club.
Just a nervy penalty shoot-out stood between success and failure for both sides in a straight knockout competition that can easily see the best penalty takers in the World fail to hit the target. Rovers went first and the first five penalties hit the sweet stuff until Pittman blasted his shot over and gave Bristol the edge and after they put there's away and Mansall fired into the top corner fourth tier football was returning to the Memorial Ground again!
Mariners boss Paul Hurst told BBC Radio Humberside; "Devastated would be a good word. It wasn't our day. No matter what I say here it doesn't change the fact that we've lost the game and lost out on promotion back to the Football League that we all desperately craved.
"They are worthy of winning promotion because of how well they've done over the course of the season so congratulations to Bristol Rovers and in particular Darrell (Clarke) who has done a fantastic job. It's just a shame that we have people driving back to Cleethorpes or a lot of others that are based around the country that we couldn't make it a party night for everyone.
"I thanked everyone and told them how proud I am of every single player and not just the ones that have been on the pitch today."