Southend United saw off Macclesfield Town 2-0 at Roots Hall this afternoon - but it was not enough to secure Blues automatic promotion.
For two thirds of the afternoon, Paul Sturrock's side were on course for a top three finish.
But Crawley's 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley meant it was them who finished third in the League Two standings to condemn Southend to the play-offs.
Despite having already been relegated, Macclesfield proved tough opponents for Blues.
And, with five minutes on the clock, the visitors were almost gifted the lead when a poor back header from Bilel Mohsni fell in to the path of Ben Tomlinson.
However, Blues' on loan shot stoppaer Cameron Belford raced off his line to deny the Silkmen striker.
Southend replied with Michael Timlin shooting straight at Town keeper Jose Veiga from the edge of the penalty area before he also kept out a deflected effort from Neil Harris.
Moments later, a low 20 yard shot from Freddy Eastwood was also kept out by Veiga who then also did well to parry out Timlin's shot from a similar distance.
Neil Harris' follow up effort from the resulting rebound was diverted for a corner by Macclesfield defender Nat Brown.
And, from the resulting Ryan Hall flag-kick in the 24th minute of the match, Blues opened the scoring as Peter Gilbert sent a cushioned 12 yard volley in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The strike handed the defender his third goal of the season and Southend almost doubled that lead 10 minutes later when Harris teed up Bilel Mohsni whose fine left footed volley was fantastically tipped over the crossbar by Veiga.
In reply, Tomlinson then fired a tame volley in to the grateful gloves of Belford before a deflected effort from Daniel flew just inches wide of the left post in the final action of the first half.
After the break, Eastwood fired an ambitious 25 yard shot off target with his left foot and, in the 58th minute, the on loan Coventry City striker went even closer to scoring after his prodded close range shot was blocked by the legs of Veiga.
Harris created the opportunity for his strike partner and then went close to netting himself when his looping header from Hall's left wing cross landed on the roof of the net.
Harris remained involved as he then made a fantastic opportunity for Anthony Grant with an intelligent pass but the on-rushing could only drag a 12 yard shot wide of the left post when he should have done better.
Eastwood then fired over from a promising position after doing well to create the chance for himself and Hall then had a 20 yard volley tipped wide of the left post by Veiga.
The Portugese stopper then superbly palmed away a powerful 20 yard shot from Timlin but he was finally beaten again in the dying seconds.
Veiga did well to keep out a header from Blues substitute striker Elliot Benyon but he was unable to stop Harris scoring from the rebound as the striker tapped home from close range.