Northampton Town have been relegated from League One after a 3-0 defeat to Blackpool.
Less than a year after a play-off victory over Exeter at Wembley got the Cobblers promoted from League 2, they will drop back to the fourth tier.
Northampton’s hopes of taking the fight to the final day depended on bettering Wigan’s result at Hull. But while the Latics lost at the KC Stadium, Northampton ultimately matched it as they lost to the play-off chasing Seasiders.
Luke Garbutt put Blackpool in front before a Jerry Yates second half double confirmed Blackpool’s victory.
The result ultimately means Northampton’s relegation is confirmed, and the side will now have to reset for a return to the fourth tier.
Blackpool lost Sullay Kaikai to an injury in the warm-up, but went in front just before the 20 minute mark as Garbutt cut inside before lashing a drive from a tight angle beyond Jonathan Mitchell.
Northampton’s hopes had earlier been hit by losing Joseph Mills to injury, with the team also having an early penalty appeal denied, but the task would now require a comeback.
The hosts attempted to get back into the contest after Garbutt’s goal, and saw a few opportunities come close, with Michael Harriman having a shot blocked and Sam Hoskins firing wide. But the hosts nearly fell further behind, as Yates forced a save from Mitchell.
Hoskins fired over when well placed shortly after half-time in a good chance for an equaliser.
But despite Northampton throwing on multiple attackers, it was Blackpool who had more of the opportunities. Harriman cleared a header by Danny Ballard off the line, before Kenny Dougall saw a strike clawed away by Mitchell.
The game’s crucial second goal would ultimately fall for Blackpool. Mitchell failed to hold onto a strike by Everton loanee Ellis Simms, and it opened up for Yates to tap in a second for the visitors.
Blackpool rubbed salt in the Cobblers’ wounds 11 minutes later. Yates would grab his second and Blackpool’s third when the striker turned in after Garbutt’s original shot was blocked.
The result ultimately confirmed Northampton’s demotion, on an afternoon that also saw Rochdale relegated after Bristol Rovers and Swindon were both demoted last weekend, and means next weekend’s final game at Sunderland will merely see the Cobblers playing for pride rather than any hope of survival.