Preston North End were relegated from the Championship as they were beaten 0-1 by Cardiff City at Deepdale
The defeat, together with Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win over Leeds at Selhurst Park, ended North End’s 11-year stay at this level and sent them tumbling into League One.
This is the club’s first relegation since 1993, and since then it’s been a largely upward trend with two promotions and seven appearances in the play-offs.
But a poor first-half of the season under former boss Darren Ferguson left PNE with it all to do, and despite the best efforts of Phil Brown who brought about a big improvement, escaping the bottom three has proved a step too far.
Peter Whittingham’s sixth minute strike settled this game, North End unable to carve out an equaliser over the remaining 84 minutes.
There was plenty of effort and desire, but they lacked the necessary quality to find a way through the Bluebirds’ well organised defence.
At the final whistle, it was the 2,500 Cardiff fans celebrating another step towards promotion, with the PNE faithful left to contemplate League One football next term.
In the fourth minute, a Billy Jones free-kick picked out Iain Hume on the far side of the box, the Canadian sending a first-time volley high over the top.
Cardiff took the lead with six minutes on the clock, Whittingham lifting a shot from 10 yards into the roof of the net after exchanging passes with Craig Bellamy.
Keith Treacy went close after cutting inside from the right-wing and trying his luck with a low shot which took a deflection and travelled past the far post.
Twice inside sixty seconds, the visitors went close to extending their lead.
Bellamy’s shot from the edge of the box hit Leon Cort on the back and looped just over the bar.
Chris Burke took the resulting corner from the right, Dekel Keinan meeting it with a powerful header which went inches too high.
Another Burke corner in the 21st minute set up Seyi Olofinjana, the midfielder’s volley tipped over by Iain Turner.
Nathan Ellington registered North End’s first shot on target, his curling effort on the turn from 20 yards comfortably fielded by keeper Tom Heaton.
Hume needed lengthy treatment after being hurt in a bone-rattling challenge with J Lloyd Samuel.
And after briefly resuming action, he had to be replaced by Darel Russell in the 33rd minute when it became clear he couldn’t carry on.
A good spell of pressure saw PNE come close to an equaliser three times in a three-minute spell.
Ian Ashbee saw a 25-yard volley bounce inches wide of the target, then Darren Carter’s glancing header from a Russell cross had Heaton scrambling across his goal to push it behind.
Chris Brown then headed against the post after being picked out by Russell, the rebound falling the way of Ellington whose shot hit team mate Jones in the six-yard box and bounced clear.
Straight after that chance, Cardiff caught North End on the break, Whittingham scooping Bellamy’s right-wing cross over the bar from close range.
Treacy almost put the hosts back on level terms six minutes into the second half.
The winger gave Paul Quinn the slip to latch on to Russell’s pass into the box, but his shot came back off the legs of Heaton.
A free-kick from the boot of Treacy then created an opening, Jones getting on the end of it but only able to direct his diving header at the keeper.
North End shouted loudly for a penalty in the 57th minute - Phil Brown was on the pitch appealing - when Treacy went down in the box.
But it fell on deaf ears, much to the annoyance of the home crowd.
Cort lasted 58 minutes of his return from a hamstring strain before suffering more damage and being forced to limp off.
Adam Barton came on, a defensive reshuffle seeing Carter go to left-back with Jones switching to the centre of defence.
Turner made a great save from Burke in the 67th minute to prevent Cardiff pulling further ahead.
Burke had exchanged passes with Bellamy before surging clear into the box, but Turner spread himself to block the shot with his chest.
With 76 minutes on the clock, a crisp 20-yard drive from Carter cleared the bar by a matter of inches.
PNE: Turner, Nicholson, Morgan, Cort, Jones, Ashbee, Carter, Treacy, Hume, Ellington, Brown. Subs: Hayes, Barton, Russell, Proctor, Wright, Devine, Lonergan.
Cardiff: Heaton, McNaughton, Keinan, Quinn, Samuel, Whittingham, McPhail, Olofinjana, Burke, Bellamy, Bothroyd. Subs: Rae, Hudson, Chopra, Parkin, Koumas, Blake, Brown.
Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)