Relegation came with a bitter taste for Owen Coyle as Bolton Wanderers' 11-year stay in the Premier League came to an end following a 2-2 draw at Stoke City.
Bolton knew only victory at the Britannia Stadium, coupled with defeat for Queens Park Rangers at Manchester City, would be good enough to keep them in the top flight.
Things were going Bolton's way at half time, with bizarre goals from Mark Davies and Kevin Davies cancelling out a controversial opener from Jon Walters, while City were also ahead.
But QPR came back to lead and, even worse, Walters equalised from the penalty spot, while City's turnaround meant Bolton's fate was only back in their own hands when the final whistle had blown in Stoke, and it was already too late.
Coyle reserved much of his anger for Chris Foy, the referee, who allowed the 13th-minute opener to stand despite Walters appearing to head the ball out of Adam Bogdan's hands, and the Bolton manager also felt the goalkeeper should not have been penalised for felling Peter Crouch to concede the penalty 13 minutes from time.
"It's hard to take," Coyle said. "We had a slow start in the game but I think the events that happened today, and I know people will talk about sour grapes, but how can that first goal be allowed to stand when Adam Bogdan had clearly got the ball in his hands?
"Jonathan Walters is a good player but he sticks his head and his elbow halfway up Adam's arm, I find it incredible. I've been in to see the officials - I've done that a lot this season and I can't say you come out any the wiser. But we bounced back, got 2-1 in front, had chances to make it 3-1. Crouch has a great chance and Adam makes a great save, but in the aftermath Crouch has knocked it by Adam and it's actually Crouch who's clambered into Adam.
"I don't think we've come out on top of the decisions today, but we've picked ourselves up again. Lee Chung-yong had a good chance to get that third goal and then Tim Ream's header in the last minute, where the keeper's made a great save. And that's the margins in this league. If that goes in, we're still in the Premier League."
* Press Association