Milton Keynes Dons will play League One football next season after missing out on reaching the playoff final, despite a dominant showing against Wycombe Wanderers at Stadium MK.
Liam Manning's side earned a fully deserved 1-0 victory in front of 13,000 fans, but it was not enough to overcome the two-goal lead the visitors had accumulated in the first leg of the semi-finals.
The result means the Milton Keynes club will remain in the third tier next season, looking to find a way to finally return to the Championship once again.
In the match, the Dons made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Adams Park, with Theo Corbeanu and Hiram Boateng replacing David Kasumu and the suspended Josh McEachran.
The Dons looked to get on the front foot from the first whistle, with Theo Corbeanu earning an early corner that Harry Darling managed to head off the crossbar, putting the visitors under pressure.
Keen to maintain their high press, the Dons forced a couple more corners in the opening minutes of the game but ultimately saw their efforts cleared away from danger.
Corbeanu earned the home side another corner with a tight-angled shot that forced David Stockdale into making a save low to the ground.
Scott Twine looked to threaten with a left-footed shot inside the area, the ball sailed through but narrowly went wide of the post.
Some neat footwork allowed the Dons to break down the right flank, with Twine picking out Troy Parrott in space. The Irish striker threaded the ball forward for Corbeanu, whose cross attempt struck the side netting.
Wycombe's first real threat came from a corner in the 21st minute. Fortunately for the Dons, the ball narrowly sailed over and out for a goal kick.
The Dons finally broke the deadlock in the 25th minute through a Parrott header from inside the box. Corbeanu attempted to cross the ball into the box but saw his effort block, forcing him to slide a pass to Hiram Boateng.
Boateng cut on his left and lofted the ball into the area, where Parrott connected and saw the ball curl up and over the reach of Stockdale and into the back on the net - sending the crowd into rapturous applause.
Almost immediately after the goal, Parrott found himself fouled on the edge of the Wycombe box. Twine, as expected, took the set piece and forced Stockdale into making a superb stop - earning a corner.
From the short corner, Corbeanu's trickery saw him also fouled and earn another free kick - this time right on the edge of the penalty box. Twine once again took it, but the ball curled too much and hit the side netting - with Stockdale requiring treatment for his attempted save.
Parrott once again looked to score with less than ten minutes remaining in the half, taking a shot on his left foot after cutting into the penalty area, seeing his effort roll narrowly wide of Stockdale's far post.
After a period of sustained pressure from the home side, Wycombe countered and forced Jamie Cumming into making an stretched save - claiming the ball with both hands, much to the relief of the crowd.
The Dons maintained the pace right up to the half-time whistle, with a low corner left by Darling for Parrott - who struck the ball cleanly, seeing his effort just lift over the crossbar.
The home side came out of the half-time break as they had ended the first, looking to get that crucial second goal.
Corbeanu sent in well-placed ball across the face of goal just minutes into the second half, but no white shirts were close enough to get a touch to it – with the goal mouth wide open.
Parrott looked destined to score a second minutes later as he raced into the box with just Stockdale to beat, a last ditch tackle forcing a corner instead.
The Canadian struck a clean effort from the edge of the penalty area after 55 minutes of play, forcing yet another corner for the Dons, who continued to pile on the pressure in front of a lively home crowd.
The Dons were almost caught out after an awkward clearance fell to Dominic Gape on the edge of the box, with the Wycombe man smashing a volley just wide of the post.
While the home side remained firmly on top, they still had not found that needed second goal with 15 minutes remaining. With the need for another goal, the Dons brought on Connor Wickham to replace Boateng to provide further support up front.
After having appeals for a handball ignored, the Dons almost gifted Wycombe a free shot on goal as Sam Vokes ran almost unopposed towards Cumming. The Dons goalkeeper held firm and forced the striker wide, with the visitors unable to register a shot.
Wickham almost extended the Dons' lead with a strong header from a Kaine Kesler-Hayden cross, but the effort sailed wide of the mark.
The Dons had a flurry of corners as regulation time expired, pinning Wycombe in their own half before Dan Kemp was struck in the face and earned a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The Dons' Player of the Year was unable to hit the target as he saw his effort float over the crossbar.
Parrott almost came up with some late heroics as he struck a powerful shot towards goal, forcing Stockdale into making a superb save deep into added time.
The Dons' dominant effort wasn't enough to overcome the aggregate score and the final whistle secured Liam Manning's side's fate as a League One club for the 2022/23 season.
The game brings to a close an exceptional season for the Dons, who began the year with genuine uncertainty after the departure of Russell Martin and his backroom staff.
Manning and his team gave the Dons fans something they have not had since the days of Karl Robinson - hope. There will be plenty of questions to be answered during the off-season, especially with the futures of some of the team's current stars.
But for now, the Dons will take time to reflect on the season that was and what could have been and look to mount another strong promotion challenge next year.
MK Dons Line-Up: Cumming, Kesler-Hayden (85' Kemp), O'Hora, Darling, Lewington, Harvie (86' Watson), Coventry, Boateng (75' Wickham), Twine, Corbeanu, Parrott