Sheffield United have been condemned to League One football for another season after defeat in a thrilling rollercoaster of a play-off semi-final tie with Swindon Town.
The Blades three times recovered after being seemingly killed off by the hosts but ultimately paid for a horror show of a start as their play-off hoodoo continues.
Nigel Clough’s side fell 3-0 down in the opening 18 minutes and few would have predicted then that the two sides would produce the highest scoring play-off semi-final in history.
United roared back on three occasions but could never edge themselves ahead on the night and only drew level on the stroke of 90 minutes.
It was their start to the game from which the Blades could never fully recover.
Ben Gladwin struck twice in the first ten minutes to put Swindon in full command. And his two strikes could hardly have been different.
First, Craig Alcock headed away Nathan Byrne’s cross but only as far out as Gladwin who smashed the ball first time into the corner from just outside the box.
Ryan Flynn almost immediately nodded the Blades back into the tie when the ball kicked up to him eight yards out but he could not keep his header down.
But then Gladwin struck again as Swindon took full advantage of poor defending to double their lead on the night.
Byrne punished a poor clearance and slow reactions from Bob Harris before crossing from the byline with Gladwin unmarked to turn the ball into an empty net.
Just when it seemed as though the game had settled down, Swindon struck for a third time.
Michael Smith turned inside the box before slamming into the bottom corner.
United responded well and hit back straight away. Murphy latched onto a crossfield ball which Swindon failed to deal with and lashed a shot which deflected off Nathan Thompson and in at the near post.
Despite their advantage, it was Swindon who continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides.
Massimo Luongo saw a shot deflected just wide after a mazy run into the area.
The game evened out as the half wore on and United finally settled into the game.
And with a fine sweeping move they pulled another goal back.
Paul Coutts switched the ball out wide where Harris sent in a superb cross to the on-rushing Basham who powered a diving header past Wes Foderingham.
United started the second half brightly and enjoyed their best period of pressure in the opposition half.
But their hopes suffered another blow on 59 minutes. A reckless foul by keeper Mark Howard on Jermaine Hylton saw referee Keith Hill point to the spot with Smith stepping up to confidently strike into the bottom corner.
Davies was thrown on and within five minutes grabbed a goal back.
Harris swung in a superb cross from the left and Davies rose to head past Foderingham.
They finally looked to have been killed off with six minutes to go when Jonathan Obika carved open the United defence.
Obika strolled through the Blades rear guard and rolled the ball past Mark Howard to end United’s charge on a remarkable night of football.
But United were not done yet.
Matt Done drilled in from six yards out to give the Blades a glimmer of hope heading into the final three minutes. Done pounced on Che Adams’ blocked effort to slam home.
And the remarkable clash took another turn when Adams fired in on the stroke of full time.
The substitute cut inside from the right and curled past Foderingham, just as seven minutes of added time were announced.
United threw everything at Swindon in injury time but never had a clear sight of goal.
And Swindon held on to set up a final clash against Preston North End on May 24.
Swindon: Foderingham, N Thompson (Obika 57), Stephens, Turnbull, Byrne, Luongo, Kasim, Gladwin (Branco 94), Ricketts, Hylton (Rodgers 62), Smith.
Subs: Belford, Barthram, Branco, Marshall, Randall.
Blades: Howard, Freeman, Alcock, McEveley, Harris, Basham, Coutts, Flynn (Adams 87), Done, Murphy, McNulty (S Davies 60).
Subs: Turner, Doyle, B Davies, McGahey, Adams, Holt.
Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire)