Manager Gary Johnson described Torquay United's mood as 'inconsolable' after the Gulls' traumatic National League Play-Off Final loss to Hartlepool United on penalties at Ashton Gate.
Goalkeeper Lucas Covolan's 94th minute header had given United, who had two Kyle Cameron headers controversially disallowed, yet another 'Gary-Time' goal and levelled a thrilling match at 1-1.
Covolan, who had pulled off a show-stopping close-range save to stop Pools going 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time, saved twice more in the penalty shoot-out.
Skipper Asa Hall, man-of-the-match Joe Lewis and Armani Little all converted their penalties.
But misses by Billy Waters, Danny Wright who hit the bar and finally Matt Buse - his spot-kick was tipped onto the bar by Hartlepool keeper Brad James - meant an agonising 'defeat' for Torquay.
Johnson admitted: "We are inconsolable in the dressing-room - what can you say?
"Obviously Lucas was our hero, saving two penalties and scoring his goal.
"Unfortunately, his team-mates missed three penalties, and you're not going to win a final if you miss three penalise.
"We thought we might have had two more goals during the game. I asked the referee to watch them back, but I won't hear anything - you never do in this league.
"It was a fantastic game, where both sets of players gave everything.
"I always think two teams should be promoted automatically from the National League.
Johnson, who has just signed a new contract at Plainmoor, added: "We've got to grieve for a couple of weeks now and, once we've done that, you gradually get over it and start building for next season."
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