SWINDON Town missed out on the League Two play-off final after losing 6-5 on penalties to Port Vale on Thursday night.

Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Town were unable to hold onto their advantage as James Wilson squared the tie on aggregate in the ninth minute.

A goalless next 110 minutes followed as penalties were required to split the teams. After Josh Davison missed the chance to send Swindon to Wembley with the 10th spot-kick in the shoot-out, Ellis Iandolo was the unlucky man as he skied his penalty into the Town fans behind the goal.

Despite the defeat, Town have enjoyed a wonderful season and vastly exceeded expectations to even reach this point.

Town remained unchanged from the team that beat Vale 2-1 four days previously. It was an identical starting XI and the same substitutes as Swindon hoped for another positive result.

Meanwhile, Vale made three changes. Kian Harratt, Mal Benning, and Jake Taylor replaced Aaron Martin, Harry Charsley, and Ryan Edmondson. There was no place in the squad for striker Jamie Proctor.

Whether it was the changes or simply being in front of 9,000 bouncing home fans, Vale began like a house on fire and should have been ahead as early as the fourth minute.

Vale took a throw quickly and Worrall whipped the ball to the back post before the it was headed back across goal. All Wilson had to do was tap home, but he somehow dragged it wide from a couple of yards out with his left.

The away side should have been afforded a chance to go ahead three minutes later but referee Seb Stockbridge appeared to freeze under the pressure of the situation. Mandela Egbo received a pass and attempted to cross into the box. A Port Vale defender blocked it behind with their arm, and the referee simply pointed for a corner after a second of consideration The silence from the home crowd when the referee pointed for a corner was telling.

Darrell Clarke’s men quickly regained their composure though and promptly went ahead through Wilson. After working space on the left, Ben Garrity laid the ball into the middle and Wilson tapped in unmarked at the far post.

Vale remained in the ascendancy, and they almost took the lead on aggregate midway through the first half. Jake Taylor turned on the edge of the box and whipped a fierce shot towards the corner. Ward dived but he was getting nowhere near it - the ball skimmed off the post and behind for a goal-kick.

Harry McKirdy and Ellis Iandolo saw shots blocked shortly after, but Town were struggling badly to create anything of note.

While Town began to recover their standing in the game, it was the Valiants who went closest before half-time.

Again, Garrity delivered a teasing ball from the left side of the box, but this time Iandolo poked the ball away from Wilson with a certain tap-in waiting.

Swindon began far more brightly after the break, Iandolo and Louis Reed both crossing into the middle for Davison. The first delivery was headed over while the second was kicked away at the last second with the Town striker waiting to fire home.

As Town chased a goal that would put them ahead on aggregate, Vale almost scored a sensational second. After Town cleared a Vale throw, the ball fell to Mal Benning on the edge of the box. The left-back ran onto it before volleying a few yards over from range.

Moments later, Swindon went close after Payne delivered a right-wing corner into the near post. It was flicked on, but Baudry couldn't keep his close-range volley down under pressure.

With 15 minutes to play, Vale could have gone further ahead on the night, only to be denied by heroic Town defending. Substitute Harry Charsley danced through after pouncing on a loose ball, but his shot was blocked by Baudry. The second shot was kept out by Ward's feet, and Wilson blasted the third into the Vale fans.

As the tension rose, Williams dragged a shot wide and Garner sent on Ben Gladwin in place of Louie Barry.

With five minutes to play, Vale almost booked their spot at Wembley. After Swindon cleared a corner, the second cross was placed right onto the head of Nathan Smith at the back post.

The big defender powered his header goalwards, but it sailed wide of Ward's left-hand post and extra-time was required.

Before any big chances could occur, a flash point at the start of extra-time resulted in Vale manager Clarke being sent off. He appeared to throw his head towards Conroy after pushing the Town captain following a throw.

In a 30-minute spell where the number of chances for both teams failed to reach five, a goal never looked likely, and so a penalty shoot-out was required.

Missed penalties from David Worrall and Ryan Edmondson handed Swindon the advantage in the shoot-out, but McKirdy and Davison also failed to score as sudden death finally decided the stalemate.

Town’s longest serving player, Iandolo, went eighth but missed as Vale moved onto Wembley to take on Mansfield Town.

PVFC starting XI: Stone, Gibbons, Hall, Smith, Worrall, Garrity, Wilson, Benning, Taylor, Pett (c), Harratt.

SUBS: Covolan, Hurst, Martin, Amoo, Charsley, Robinson, Edmondson.

STFC starting XI: Ward, Egbo, Baudry, Conroy, Iandolo, Reed, Payne, Williams, Barry, Davison, McKirdy.

SUBS: Wollacott, Odimayo, Gladwin, O’Brien, Mitchell-Lawson, Aguiar, Parsons.

ATTENDANCE: 11,669 (2,113)

REFEREE: Seb Stockbridge