Cheltenham gained the first-leg advantage in their npower League Two play-off semi-final against Torquay 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 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.