Goals from Jermaine McGlashan and Ben Burgess gave Cheltenham the advantage in the first leg of the League Two play-off semi-final against Torquay.
McGlashan's cross-shot rolled past goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik and went in off the post to open the scoring.
The winger then provided the Robins' second after the break as he drifted the ball to Burgess who nodded home.
Torquay had chances, but Ryan Jarvis headed his effort onto the crossbar and Ian Morris' strike went wide.
Both teams were on course for an automatic promotion place over the winter months - Cheltenham were top in January and Torquay were sitting second until mid-April - but both fell short at the end of the regular season.
The Gulls went into the first leg lacking form, having failed to win in their last five games, and they came up against a confident Cheltenham outfit who went some way to proving they are worthy promotion contenders.
Torquay failed to seize their early opportunities in a hectic first half, as Rene Howe flashed his shot over the bar and Jarvis' knock towards goal was tipped away by keeper Scott Brown.
The visitors lost their spark when Howe was forced off through injury after 20 minutes but Cheltenham found their stride, with Burgess and Jimmy Spencer both causing problems up front.
But it was tricky winger McGlashan who broke the deadlock after he fed a low ball into the area which trickled slowly past Olejnik and eventually crossed the line off the far post.
The Robins continued to control the game after the break, Steve Elliott lashing his strike just wide after a trademark blistering run from Kaid Mohamed.
Their pressure paid off when Luke Summerfield linked up with McGlashan, who floated the ball in towards Notts County man Burgess, who hit home with a powerful header for his third goal in four games.
Martin Ling's Gulls went agonisingly close to pulling one back moments later but Jarvis' header pinged off the crossbar after Eunan O'Kane's ball in.
As the game petered out, Torquay substitute Taiwo Atieno headed down Kevin Nicholson's ball to force Brown into action, but they failed to find the breakthrough.
POST MATCH REACTION
Cheltenham Town Manager Mark Yates told BBC Radio Gloucestershire:
"I thought we deserved to win the game, but it's half time and we're two nil up so it's far from over. However if we play with the same effort and quality we've given ourselves a chance.
"We brought Ben (Burgess) in to give us something different and he's certainly done that. He's added a different dimension to our play. Although we've got two big strong forwards up front the football was decent too."
"The boys are level headed and they're not getting carried away. When we celebrated with the supporters after the game it was not us believing we've got to Wembley, it was a show of appreciation after a long tough season."