A horror leg break for Shaun MacDonald, which could rule him out until 2018, compounded an agonising afternoon for Wigan Athletic at Reading that ended up in relegation to League One.
Only a miraculous series of results would have staved off what has been increasingly inevitable for a number of weeks.
I know it was a long shot, but I’m proud of the performance.Graham Barrow
In the end, not even an away win at the Madejski Stadium would have been enough, with relegation rivals Birmingham and Blackburn winning elsewhere.
But news of MacDonald’s broken fibula and tibia - after a late lunge from Reading’s George Evans - was an unnecessary extra kick to the guts on a forgettable day for the club.
“Shaun’s broken his leg and it’s as serious as it can get,” reported interim boss Graham Barrow.
“I don’t think there was a lot in the challenge. He’s not that type of player, it wasn’t that type of game.
“I won’t lay any blame on him and I don’t think Shaun would if I’m being honest.
“He’s a decent lad (MacDonald), and it’s just a blow to him because he’s been in the Welsh squad a few times this season.
“I had a reasonable view from the side. It’s only the third time I’ve heard that noise, that crack, and I knew he had broken his leg straight away.
“It broke the skin. The risk is infection over the next 48 hours.
“It’s a blow to any player and you’re looking towards Christmas now for the next time he’ll be playing.”
Barrow acknowledged it was always a ‘long shot’ that Latics would manage to wriggle out of the relegation mire.
“I know other results went against us but, with the pressure I put myself under, I thought I could do it,” he added.
“I know it was a long shot, but I’m proud of the performance.
“Obviously the finishing touch wasn’t there, but the players have been great for me.
“Out of all the games I’ve had, I would say only Ipswich was a disappointment in terms of the performance and effort.
“Obviously it’s not been enough to keep us in the Championship.”