AFC Wimbledon saw their relegation to League Two confirmed on Saturday afternoon after an action-packed game against Accrington Stanley.
A mammoth task greeted the Dons prior to kick off, with only a miraculous eight-goal swing being enough for us to preserve our League One status against the odds.
However, any early optimism over what could occur was quickly extinguished as Accrington clinically raced into a three-goal lead thanks to goals from Jay Rich-Baghuelou, Colby Bishop and Michael Nottingham.
Ultimately it was this sequence of events that consigned us to our almost inevitable fate, and it left Mark Bowen wanting a big response from his players after the break.
Wimbledon’s charges did show some much-needed fight in the second period, with Jack Rudoni claiming a well taken double after Ayoub Assal had got the first back.
In the end it mattered little as John O’Sullivan hit a fourth for the visitors in and amongst the events that took place.
We now head towards a summer that will be crucial to determining which direction we head in next – with key decisions being needed at a time when we must look to rise again.
Bowen rang the changes for our final game of the season with the young duo of Alfie Bendle and Dylan Adjei-Hersey being handed their first ever starts for the Dons, whilst the likes of Dapo Mebude and Paul Osew also featured in the starting eleven.
This meant that Anthony Hartigan, George Marsh, Sam Cosgrove and Paul Kalambayi all dropped out of the team.
The changes made for a very attacking Dons line-up, with the men in yellow and blue knowing that they had to give everything in order for any sort of miracle to occur.
A first chance came about within 16 minutes, with Luke McCormick breaking onto a loose ball before sliding in Adjei-Hersey whose shot was easy for Liam Isherwood to deal with in the Accrington goal.
However, it was Stanley who took the lead. Rich-Baghuelou was given the room to line up a shot from distance and crashed in a rocket of a strike that left Nik Tzanev with no chance.
The Dons then came so close to an equaliser following some great link up play involving Mebude, Rudoni and Assal, with the latter seeing his shot force Isherwood into a fine save down to his right.
But yet again it was the visitors who were to hit the net next. This time a low ball from the left was deflected into the path of Bishop who had time to turn and fire past Tzanev.
And it got worse for Wimbledon prior to the break, with Nottingham heading home Accrington’s third from a corner.
Bowen understandably rang the changes at half time with both Cosgrove and Dan Csoka being introduced as we sought to at least show some pride and professionalism.
The changes did little to change the overall flow of the game, with Accrington going close on more than one occasion as they looked to extend their lead to four.
Nevertheless, it was the Dons who were next to find the net in this game, with Mebude doing brilliantly to scamper into the box before putting the ball on a plate for Assal to tap home.
And within an instant Wimbledon had a second. A free kick was launched into the area for Rudoni to power home a header unmarked.
The pendulum then swung again as the visitors claimed their fourth goal of the afternoon with John O’Sullivan heading home.
It was then 4-3 just three minutes later, with Rudoni firing home from distance as the second half scoring continued.
Bendle was withdrawn in the 83rd minute to mass applause, with the teenager having put in a mature performance in the centre of the park that certainly bodes well for the future.
‘Womble Till I Die’ was the chant from behind the South London Movers Stand as the minutes ticked down at the end of the game. This result combined with others elsewhere confirmed Wimbledon’s fate and we will be playing League Two football next season for the first time in six years.
The task now is to rebuild our proud reputation moving forwards as we seek to bounce back from this setback as quickly as possible.
AFC Wimbledon: Nik Tzanev, Will Nightingale (Dan Csoka), Ayoub Assal, Jack Rudoni, Dapo Mebude, Luke McCormick, Ben Heneghan, Alfie Bendle (Ethan Chislett), Dylan Adjei-Hersey (Sam Cosgrove), Paul Osew, Lee Brown.