Lincoln City will be playing non-league football next season after a desperately disappointing defeat to Aldershot Town sealed their fate.
A near 8,000 strong Sincil Bank crowd looked on in horror as the Imps fell to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Shots in a game that they needed to win.
Events at Underhill also conspired to go against City, as Barnet recorded a historic 1-0 win against Port Vale and completed the great escape.
It marks a remarkable turn-around for the Bees who successfully hunted down the Imps, despite trailing the side from Lincolnshire by twelve points in the middle of March.
Since then, Lincoln have only been able to gain one solitary point with their last victory coming way back on March 12th as they recorded a 2-1 victory against Steve Tilson’s former team, Southend United.
Such a terrible run of results meant that Imps fans came to Sincil Bank this afternoon fearing the worst, but hoping for the best.
City were forced to make an enforced change to the side that suffered defeat to Oxford United a week ago, with the experience of Jamie Clapham coming into replace the suspended Danny Hone.
The change meant a defensive re-shuffle, with Cian Hughton dropping back into right-back and Paul Green taking up a place in the heart of the defence. Clapham was asked to play a mid-field role alongside Clark Keltie, Luke Howell and Ali Fuseini.
The Imps shaded the first half, and could count themselves unlucky not be going into the break 1-0 up.
Both Ashley Grimes and Ali Fuseini could have settled Sincil Bank nerves in the first 45 minutes, but unfortunately neither could find a way past Jamie Young in the Aldershot goal and the teams went in goal-less.
The second half was a completely different affair however as the Imps spectacularly crumbled under the pressure.
At the beginning of the second period, news began to filter through to Sincil Bank of events unfolding in the capital where the Imps’ worse fears were confirmed.
Izale McLeod’s coolly taken penalty meant that if things stayed the same, Barnet would over-haul Lincoln and climb out of the bottom two.
Things got worse for City on 57 minutes when they conceded a harsh looking penalty, as Jamie Clapham was alleged to have sent Jermaine McGlashan tumbling in the box.
Danny Hylton stepped up to the spot and made no mistake as he buried the ball past Elliot Parish, leaving Lincoln facing an up-hill struggle to survive.
The Imps desperately tried to find a way back into the match, but were finding it hard to create chances and keep possession as frustration mounted in the stands.
It was all but game over on 70 minutes as Luke Gutteridge drilled home from the edge of the box and doubled the away side’s lead.
The goal meant that realistically Lincoln were now relying on Port Vale to find the equaliser that would save them from relegation, but it never came.
Any lingering hopes of a miraculous comeback were put to bed four minutes from time, as Gutteridge added to his tally with another well-placed finish and broke Lincoln hearts.
There were ugly scenes at the final whistle as a number of fans spilled onto the pitch in order to vent their frustration at a group of players that had let them down over the course of a disastrous campaign.
Ultimately, a sequence of nine defeats in just eleven games at the business end of the season cost the Imps their Football League status and meant that they will now be plying their trade in the non-league for the first time since 1987.
Lincoln will now turn their attentions to building a side capable of competing at the top of the Blue Square Premier next season, a league that is notoriously hard to get out of. Luton Town, York City and Grimsby Town can vouch for that.