Southampton manager Alan Pardew was unable to hide his disappointment as his side's faint play-off hopes were finally extinguished despite a 3-2 win over Carlisle at St Mary's.
Huddersfield's 6-0 win over Stockport condemned the Saints to another season in League One as they were unable to overcome the 10-point deduction they started the season with for going into administration last year.
Pardew said: "There's a lot of disappointment in the dressing room and I feel for the players more than anyone else, they deserved better.
"It's been a funny season in terms of the points total needed and we find ourselves out of the play-offs with two games to go. It's difficult to take but it's been a tremendous effort and we were just unable to catch up after starting the season 10 points behind everyone else."
Pardew knows Saints will have the pressure of starting next season as promotion favourites and said: "We have to finish strongly and take that momentum into next season where we will have to get ourselves ready for a different type of campaign.
"But we will start on an even keel with everyone else and we have a strong group of players who will get better."