Colchester United 2 Torquay United 1
Torquay needed a point to be sure of safety but it was not to be their day as their suffered defeat and MK Dons recorded a priceless last-day victory.
Torquay looked to be safe until news filtered through that the MK Dons had snatched a late winner against Tranmere to effectively send them down.
The Devon side never really got going at Layer Road and they fell behind in the 42nd minute when Neil Danns swept home his 12th goal of the season.
The initial shot from Marino Keith was blocked but Danns charged down the rebound with the ball looping up off keeper Andy Marriott and spinning into an unguarded net.
The Essex hosts made the game safe in the final minute of normal time when Keith rifled home his fouth goal in a Colchester shirt since his move from Plymouth.
Keith rushed on to an excellent through ball from skipper Kevin Watson and made no mistake by tucking the ball past on-rushing keeper Marriott.
There was still time for Torquay to pull a goal back when defender Craig Woodman smashed home a long-range free-kick to chalk up his first ever league goal.
But that effort came in the third and final minute of injury time which was far too late for Torquay to mount a late rally.
It was a disappointing way to end the season for the Gulls who won their last four fixtures to give themselves an excellent chance of surviving the drop.
But matters transpired against them on the day - both at Layer Road and elsewhere.