Preston North End’s chances of finishing in the Play-Offs ended following a 4-1 defeat to the already-promoted Sheffield United.
Anel Ahmedhodžić opened the scoring in the 38th minute, before half-time substitute Liam Delap netted his first goal for the club to level in the second period.
The Blades were soon back ahead, though, through John Fleck, and Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie then added to the scoring.
North End started the match brightly and were enjoying their fair share of possession, creating chances through Troy Parrott – whose effort was blocked – and Josh Onomah, who produced a save from goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
The hosts then started to grow into the game and could have found the lead on 21 minutes when Ndiaye broke with speed and slipped the ball through to Tommy Doyle, who was denied by a great stop at close range by Freddie Woodman.
PNE’s No.1 was beaten on 36 minutes, though, as Ahmedhodžić rose highest on the end of Doyle’s corner and his header went in off the post.
Doyle nearly made it two in the next attack for the Blades as he looked to find the bottom corner, only for Woodman to tip round the post.
His work for the half wasn’t over yet, with the goalkeeper then required to tip Oliver Norwood’s dipping 30-yard free-kick over the crossbar.
Three minutes into the second period, Tom Cannon so nearly had the leveller as the ball broke kindly in his direction, but his effort was saved at close range by Foderingham.
The hosts then came even closer at the other end, firstly through Ndiaye who showed good feet before having a strike saved by Woodman, and the rebound from James McAtee was then blocked on the line by Andrew Hughes.
PNE levelled the game on 63 minutes with a great goal as Potts was found in space on the right and he drilled a brilliant cross in for half-time substitute Delap to tap in from close range.
It seemed like North End had the momentum at that stage but the Blades broke quickly through Daniel Jebbison ten minutes later, who backheeled for Fleck and Hughes threw himself in front of the effort, but that only helped the ball loop over Woodman and into the back of the net.
A third goal came just a couple of minutes later when Jebbison found Ndiaye alone in the area to finish, and McBurnie then volleyed home a fourth to cap off a promotion party at Bramall Lane.
Sheffield United line-up: Foderingham; Basham, Ahmedhodžić, Robinson (Egan, 82); Bogle, Norwood, Doyle (Berge, 61), Lowe; McAtee (Fleck, 72), Sharp (Jebbison, 61), Ndiaye (McBurnie, 82). Subs not used: Davies, Baldock.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Storey (Delap, 45), Bauer, Hughes; Potts, Ledson (Woodburn, 88), Onomah (McCann, 69), Johnson, Fernández; Cannon, Parrott (Leigh, 88). Subs not used: Cornell, Lindsay, Slater.
Referee: Mr S Martin.