IT was play-off heartbreak for Warrington Town as they were beaten in the Northern Premier League play-off final this afternoon.

Bailey Gooda's late goal earned Scarborough Athletic a 2-1 victory and a place in the National League North for next season.

It came close to the end of a second half which Yellows played with 10 men after Mitch Duggan was controversially sent off for a challenge on Ashley Jackson.

Josh Amis had equalised for Mark Beesley's side after Michael Coulson had put the Seadogs ahead, but Town will remain in the Northern Premier League Premier Division next season.

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Sean Williams hooks the ball clear during the play-off final. Picture by Karl Vallantine

Read sports reporter Matt Turner's full match verdict below

IT was the cruellest of ends.

They already had to do it the hard way and in the end, life was made even harder for Warrington Town just after half time of their promotion decider.

After a forceful challenge in which Mitch Duggan won the ball but followed through strongly into Ashley Jackson, referee Jamie O’Connor pulled out the red card to put a dagger into their hearts.

Whether or not the decision was the correct one – debate will rage about that no doubt and the sense of injustice will burn in Cheshire – refereeing decisions are not what you want to be talking about in games like this.

However, it cannot be denied that the call completely altered the course of a game that was so delicately poised.

Before Duggan was sent from the field, Town had actually started the second half well and had a goal disallowed – correctly – as Jordan Buckley just mistimed his run to be called offside.

And that came having dragged themselves back into the game after a shaky period having conceded first.

When Josh Amis finished off an excellent move, it set the game up for a thrilling second half which descended into what was effectively an attack-versus-defence training session.

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Josh Amis heads in Town's equaliser. Pictures by Karl Vallantine

Decisions aside, Mark Beesley's side will be left to rue two glorious chances at opposite ends of the game.

Buckley shot over the bar when clean through on goal in the game's early stages and in the desperate search for an equaliser in injury time, Amis headed against the crossbar.

When the dust settles weeks from now, Town’s players will no doubt look back upon their efforts with so much pride – as they should.

Warrington Guardian:

Jordan Buckley challenges Scarborough's Simon Heslop. Picture by Karl Vallantine

At the beginning of this season, the play-offs seemed – financially at least – a bit of an ask.

Fifth place was seen as a huge achievement and in getting through to the final by beating South Shields, hopes were high they could pull off the improbable again.

On the day, however, little went their way – even Bailey Gooda’s late winner was tinged with controversy as Yellows appealed in vain that he had controlled the ball with his hand before lashing past Dan Atherton.

Town were unable to make the substitution they had lined up prior to said passage of play as well after Jay Harris succumbed to injury - another in a long list of incidents they will feel aggrieved about.

Through sheer weight of pressure, the goal was arguably coming as Town were naturally forced onto the back foot, but one cannot help but wonder how the 35 minutes that followed the red card would have unfolded if it had remained 11 versus 11.

Nothing can be done now, though, and wounds must be licked ready to go again next season.

Picking themselves up will be difficult and for many, it may well be the last we see of them in a Town shirt as higher-ranked vultures will no doubt circle around the likes of Atherton, Jordan Buckley and others.

Those that are left face the difficult task of once again putting a crushing disappointment of falling at the final hurdle behind them.