Town went down to a 3-2 defeat to Millwall, in what was an entertaining but ultimately academic match at The New Den as Leeds United beat Bristol Rovers 2-1 at Elland Road to return to the Championship.
Town made a dream start when Danny Ward fired them in front with a stunning volley on two minutes.
Jonathan Douglas lifted a free kick into the box from the left, and Paul Robinson's clearance looped to the left hand corner of the box, and Ward met it powerfully with his right foot, giving David Forde no chance and sending the travelling support into raptures.
The goal inevitably woke up the home side, and they began to play with an increased sense of urgency as they searched out an equaliser to quell the already impatient home crowd.
And quelled they became after 13 minutes when Shaun Batt broke into the box and was brought down by Douglas, giving referee Stroud little choice but to point to the spot.
Steve Morison stepped up to send Lucas the wrong way and level things up at 1-1 and increase the noise levels inside The New Den by a few decibels.
The rest of the half was played out with both sides looking assured in possession, but lacking the killer instinct required to go in front, as both Lucas and Forde remained largely untroubled save for having to pick the ball out of their respective nets.
Lucas could have found himself doing that again as he was beaten to a Scott Barron cross by Liam Trotter just inside the box, but the midfielder's header looped over the bar to save the 'keeper's blushes.
Chances were at a premium as the half time whistle blew, but with the game having been played at such a frantic pace, and it would have taken a brave person to bet against one team taking the points by five o'clock.
An initially lacklustre second half was hugely re-energised by the news that Bristol Rovers had taken a 1-0 lead against 10-man Leeds United at Elland Road, and looked to have made the game into a two-way shootout for second place.
Both sides began to look nervous in possession as the magnitude of the occasion seemingly began to dawn on them.
However it was Millwall who went in front after 65 minutes, as Steve Morison broke free on the right hand edge of the box and saw his low cross diverted into his own net by Town captain Gordon Greer.
It was cruel on Greer who had been in typically dominant form, but he lost his balance at the crucial moment and was powerless to stop the ball rolling over the line.
The home fans were delirious for five minutes, until the news that Leeds had taken a 2-1 lead filtered into the ground; resulting in a strange dampening of the atmosphere inside The New Den.
Town's hopes of automatic promotion were effectively killed off when Steve Morison hit a deflected volley from the edge of the box, leaving the stranded David Lucas with no chance and making it 3-1 on 74 minutes - but the score remained largely academic as Leeds continued to hold a 2-1 advantage over Bristol Rovers.
Just as the opening 60 had been played at an incredibly frantic pace, the last 10 resembled a pre-season friendly, as both teams seemed resigned to the play-offs.
Billy Paynter injected some urgency into both sides, as he diverted a long range Alan Sheehan free-kick past David Forde into the corner after 84 minutes to give Town hope in the match, which saw the visitors begin to dictate the play as the hosts looked deflated at the thought of registering a fruitless victory.
A 3-2 defeat was a little harsh on Town from a game in which both sides gave whole-hearted performances, and Danny Wilson will be confident going into the play-off ties with Charlton Athletic.