Unlucky Frickley Athletic have failed to win promotion from the Evo-Stik South after narrowly missing out on automatic promotion and losing in the play-offs semi-final on Tuesday night.
After finishing in third place in the league, the Blues earned home advantage for the one-leg play-off semi-final, but could not make the most of it as they lost 2-1 to a Stamford side they had beaten twice in the regular season.
Previous results counted for nothing as they found themselves two down in the first half and hit the woodwork several times after the break before an injury-time goal came too late to save them.
Stamford started the better and only a great save low down by keeper Jake Turner prevented the visitors from taking an early lead.
Turner was beaten on 21 minutes when Rob Morgan opened the scoring. Stamford then doubled their advantage 13 minutes later as handball was given against home defender Dan Burns in the area and up stepped Kieran Wells to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Jacob Hazel came closest for the Blues, but they squandered three decent chances and still trailed 2-0 at the break.
They tried to hit their opponents with all their attacking might in the second half, but the ball just would not go in as Gavin Allott had a shot saved by keeper Danny Haystead and Jameel Ible sent a header from a corner crashing against the crossbar.
Stamford went down to 10 men in the 65th minute with Wells red carded for a foul on Turner, who later had to go off injured.
With their extra man the Blues poured forward only to see Ible hit the crossbar again and a couple of goalmouth scrambles come to nothing.
Seven minutes of added time gave the Blues renewed hope and five minutes in they finally had the ball in the net as Hazel came up with his 47th goal of the season following a corner.
But they ran out of time to get an equaliser and Stamford, who finished in sixth place in the league, 11 points behind Frickley, now go forward to meet Bedworth United in the play-offs final on Saturday.
The Blues, meanwhile, have been left to reflect on a so near yet so far season with so many highs but one ultimate huge low right at the end.
Frickley ended up in third place in the Evo-Stik South, just three points off an automatic promotion place and were left to curse the three they had deducted earlier in the season for fielding an ineligible player.
They rounded off their thrilling regular season campaign with a 1-0 win over Sheffield last Saturday and a 1-1 draw at Stocksbridge Park Steels, remaining unbeaten for the last 11 league games, winning nine of them.
George Milner’s first goal for the club earned all three points against Sheffield, while Ishmael Dawson’s 90th minute equaliser claimed a point for Frickley last Thursday night when their fate was sealed as far as automatic promotion went.
It is not quite all over for Frickley this season as they now have another crack at reaching a final when they travel to play Shaw Lane in the semi-finals of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Senior Cup on Monday night (kick-off 7.45pm).