Taylor Charter's winning penalty sparked jubilation in one half of Wembley Stadium.
A sunny May Bank Holiday Sunday in North-West London proved to be one of the best days in Carlisle United's history. Second favourites to go down at the beginning of the campaign, Paul Robinson has spearheaded his side into reaching the third tier.
On the other half of Wembley, the worst feeling known to football fans, a playoff final loss on penalties. All that hard work, Stockport had made it so far, yet have to settle for another season in League Two. In hindsight, not many Hatters would have expected a playoff final appearance from their team at the start of the season. Winning just four of their opening 14 games, it seemed as if County were in for a prolonged relegation scrap. But manager Dave Challinor engineered an impressive turnaround as he led his side into the playoff places, where thy would remain until the end of the season.
Carlisle keeper Tomas Holy stepped up in the shootout to be the hero as he saved Ryan Rydel's effort. The game initially seemed to be slipping away from Carlisle, as a first-half own goal was the difference until the 84th minute when Omari Patrick equalised. And it was still 1-1 after extra time. Both teams entirely spent from 120 minutes of a gruelling battle. However, penalties seems to bring odds close to 50/50. No matter what team has been on top during the contest, penalties can just as easily go either way. Will someone slip up? Will someone pull of a spectacular save? Carlisle came out on top this time around and the rewards is insurmountable - a place in League One next season. They will join automatic promotion teams Northampton, Stevenage and Leyton Orient in a strong League One that commences in August. All heads now turn to the fixture release in late June, and then the preparations will begin in preseason.
On the other hand, Stockport are welcomed back into the pack in League Two, as they will search for a return to the playoffs in a years time, if not automatic promotion. But it is never that easy. It is easy to say now that they will be back but you just never know in football. It is still an impressive feat in that they have achieved so much in the last couple years. To be promoted from the National League and to reach the playoff final in their first season back in League Two is no small feat. But they did not quite have enough to get over the line this time around.