Fleetwood Town clinched their sixth promotion in 10 years after defeating Burton Albion 1-0 thanks to a goal by Antoni Sarcevic.
In a close fought contest of few chances, it all came down to an error from Albion keeper Dean Lyness who completely misjudged Sarcevic's 75th minute free kick while under pressure from Town’s Nathan Pond. As the ball was floated in from the left, Lyness ran off his line thinking the ball would be flicked on by Pond but it went over his despairing arms and straight into the net.
Brewers boss Gary Rowett said he did not blame his keeper for the defeat.
“Dean kept us in the game early on with a couple of saves so I told him there is nothing we can do about it and we must all stick together and regroup for next season.”
For Graham Alexander and his team the victory means they will start next season in Division One for the first time in their history; a mere decade after playing in the North West Counties league.
“I am delighted for the lads who worked really hard. It is great for everyone at the club. We now have to look at planning for next season.”
Fleetwood started the quicker and could have been 2 – 0 up in the first three minutes with Lyness saving two close range efforts from Pond and team-mate David Ball. At the other end Albion captain Lee Bell fired straight at Cod Army keeper Chris Maxwell and Billy Kee headed wide.
In the second half the Brewers seemed the side more likely to score with both strikers Adam McGurk and Kee providing a constant threat and winger Chris Hussey looking dangerous down the left. The best chance fell to centre-back Shane Cansdell-Sheriff who headed a corner across goal when he should have hit the target.
As so often in football, teams that fail to score when in control, often end up being punished. Two days earlier, near neighbours Derby County were punished by QPR after being on top, and it was the same fate for Albion.
Full-back Phil Edwards gave away a needless free-kick 10 yards inside his own half and from the resulting kick, Sarcevic watched his long range floater go straight into the net.
For the remaining 15 minutes the Brewers continually pressured their opponents but failed to dent the Fleetwood defence despite the introduction of on-loan striker Zeli Ismail from the bench.
The 1 - 0 defeat is Albion’s second Division 2 playoff heartbreak in two seasons after losing last year to Bradford City in the semi-finals.
“These games are often defined by a mistake or a wonder goal but sadly for us it was the former,” reflected Rowett. “I am proud of the lads. Over 48 games this season they have been magnificent.”