ROBINS SET UP ALEX SHOWDOWN

Cheltenham Town withstood heavy first half pressure before goals from Jermaine McGlashan and Marlon Pack secured a 2-1 win at Torquay to confirm their place in the npower League 2 Play-Off final.

Torquay substitute Taiwo Atieno gave Martin Ling's men brief hope by cancelling out McGlashan's goal, but Pack rifled home a magnificent 87th minute free-kick to secure a 4-1 aggregate triumph for Cheltenham. Mark Yates' men travel to Wembley a week on Sunday to face a Crewe side unbeaten in their last 18 outings.

McGlashan was narrowly off target with a rasping 30-yard drive in the early stages before his side were forced to withstand a first-half onslaught.

Goalkeeper Scott Brown was the outstanding performer of the opening 45 minutes, and he got his night's work under way by tipping a Eunan O'Kane effort over following some deft footwork from the Torquay midfielder.

Cheltenham defender Keith Lowe fortuitously cleared via the post as he looked to hack clear from his own goalmouth and Brian Saah fired the loose ball wide. Brown's best moment came courtesy of another low stop in the 27th minute when Mark Ellis' first-time shot from Danny Stevens' shot emerged cleanly from a crowd of bodies.

There was drama a minute before the interval as Torquay full-back Kevin Nicholson's sweetly struck free-kick rattled the crossbar with Brown rooted to the spot.

Cheltenham began the second half with greater purpose and Robert Olejnik gathered at the second attempt when McGlashan looked to clip home from an acute angle at the end of a mazy run.

O'Kane's 54th minute header looped up off Robins defender Alan Bennett to force Brown into another superb save, but it soon became clear that Torquay's early attacking verve had deserted them.

Kaid Mohamed hit a swerving shot over after a mazy run down the Torquay left by Robins full-back Sido Jombati before the decisive moment arrived in the 74th minute. Mohamed was allowed to ease infield after collecting Ben Burgess' pass and he played in McGlashan, who stabbed home via Olejnik's boot and the inside of the far post.

Atieno reduced the aggregate arrears when he was left unmarked to glance in a near-post header from O'Kane's 85th minute corner. However, Pack applied the gloss in memorable fashion when he found the top corner after Saah fouled Jeff Goulding.

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ALEX ARE OFF TO WEMBLEY

Seventeen-year-old Max Clayton scored the goal which sent Crewe Alexandra to Wembley for the npower League 2 Play-Off final courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate win over Southend United.

Substitute Clayton had only been on the field 10 minutes when he tucked the ball home to put his side 3-1 ahead in the 86th minute.

Ajay Leitch-Smith had earlier opened the scoring for the visitors before Neil Harris levelled for Southend in the second half. Clayton's strike appeared to be enough but Chris Barker ensured a nervy final few minutes for the visitors when he headed Southend level on 88 minutes.

But Crewe, who won the first leg courtesy of Adam Dugdale's goal, held out to book a place in next weekend's final against Cheltenham or Torquay.

Crewe stunned the home crowd in the 24th minute thanks to a superb strike from Leitch-Smith. Ashley Westwood won the ball in midfield and fed Leitch-Smith, who still had plenty to do in the corner of Southend's penalty area.

But the 22-year-old striker turned back inside Sean Clohessy, shifting the ball onto his right food before sending his shot arrowing across Shrimpers goalkeeper Cameron Belford and inside the far post.

Southend's luck was out when they were denied by the woodwork twice in as many minutes.

First Michael Timlin's shot from outside the box clipped the upright, and moments later Freddy Eastwood's low drive thumped the inside of the opposite post and rolled agonisingly across the goal-line to safety.

The hosts did haul themselves back into the tie just after the hour mark, substitute Harris profiting from a Steve Phillips error to slide the ball home. But as Southend poured forward they were undone on the counter-attack, with Clayton holding the ball up before rolling it inside Phillips' near post.

Barker immediately headed Southend level again three minutes from time but Crewe, who finished 11 points behind their opponents in seventh, are now just 90 minutes from promotion.

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ROBINS GET THE BETTER OF THE GULLS

Cheltenham Town gained the first-leg advantage in their npower League 2 Play-Off semi-final against Torquay United with a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Jermaine McGlashan and Ben Burgess.

McGlashan's first-half opener capped a fine display from the midfielder, who signed from Aldershot Town in January, while Burgess' measured header put the Gloucestershire side in pole position for the Wembley final.

Martin Ling's side narrowly missed out on automatic promotion and finished four points above their hosts.

Torquay, beaten Play-Off finalists last season, settled quicker than their hosts and Rene Howe fired an early effort just over the bar before goalkeeper Scott Brown rushed out to deny Ryan Jarvis as the Walsall loanee looked to lift the ball over him from 12 yards out.

Mark Yates' men reacted well and imposing striker Burgess' header was tipped over by Robert Olejnik in the 18th minute.

The breakthrough came in the 27th minute when Damon Lathrope conceded possession in midfield, allowing Luke Summerfield to feed McGlashan, who darted into the area and slotted home via the far post.

An action-packed start to the second half saw both sides strike the woodwork and the Robins double their advantage.

First Mark Ellis tried to poke Summerfield's cross behind for a corner but smashed the ball against the post, then Burgess directed a powerful header into the top corner from McGlashan's cross.

Jarvis spurned a glorious chance to reduce the deficit almost immediately as he headed against the bar from close range.

Substitute Taiwo Atieno tested Brown with a late toe-poke and a back-post header but could not find a way through, leaving Torquay with a two-goal deficit to overturn in the second leg at Plainmoor on Thursday.

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DUGDALE'S HEADER SINKS SHRIMPERS

Adam Dugdale's second-half header gave Crewe Alexandra a narrow 1-0 advantage over Southend United in their npower League 2 Play-Off semi-final.

Following a first half of few chances, Alex centre-back Dugdale headed home Ashley Westwood's 49th minute free-kick to end the visitors' run of five consecutive clean sheets and send Gresty Road into raptures.

It was no less than Steve Davis' side deserved as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 matches by outplaying a Southend team who recorded a league double over them this season. Paul Sturrock's men also headed into the game in a rich vein of form, winning four of their last five to miss out on automatic promotion by a point.

Michael Timlin, Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall all went close as a belated rally arrived from Southend, but they emerged with nothing to take back to Roots Hall for Wednesday night's second leg.

Matt Tootle made the most of his attacking licence in the opening exchanges and almost got on the end of Byron Moore's dangerous eighth minute cross, Southend full-back Sean Clohessy on hand to clear behind.

Ajay Leitch-Smith was narrowly beaten to Tootle's through-ball by U's goalkeeper Cameron Belford before strike partner Nick Powell was crowded out following some clever footwork in the area. In the 23rd minute Belford did well to punch Powell's left-wing centre to safety as Luke Murphy's late run left him momentarily unsighted.

Southend edged their way into the contest after the half-hour and Kane Ferdinand headed over from Hall's 41st-minute cross, but half-time arrived without Belford or opposite number Steve Phillips being overly troubled.

Hall had a shot blocked following a deft outside-of-the-foot pass from Mohsni as Sturrock's men began the second period with greater intent, only to fall behind. There appeared to be little danger when Westwood launched a speculative ball into the United area, but Dugdale rose majestically to send a looping header beyond Belford into the far corner.

Crewe sought to press home their advantage with the visitors wobbling, and Tootle just failed to find the decisive touch from another raking Westwood delivery. Belford produced a phenomenal save to push a Leitch-Smith effort over the bar in the 66th minute after a long clearance split the Southend defence.

Southend finally enjoyed a clear opportunity with 20 minutes remaining when Mohsni cushioned a header to the onrushing Michael Timlin, but Phillips parried well. Mohsni - who scored three of his 13 league goals this season against Alex - then nodded over at the back post before Hall fizzed a 20-yard drive wide and Crewe held on.

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