Wigan Athletic’s relegation to the third tier of English football was confirmed when they lost 1-0 to play-off qualifiers Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Yann Kermorgant put the Royals ahead after only five minutes when he headed home Garath McCleary’s cross.
Latics situation got worse on 21 minutes when they lost midfielder Shaun MacDonald with a broken leg after a collision with George Evans.
Despite the setback, and also losing defender Reece Burke to injury, they battled to get back into the game and created plenty of chances only to be foiled by former keeper Ali Al Habsi and their own poor finishing.
The victory moved the Royals up to third in the table while Wigan frustratingly drop back into League One after only one season back in the Championship.
There was one change to Latics starting line-up from the draw against Cardiff City with Nick Powell replacing Gabriel Obertan.
Latics had a dreadful start to the game when they went behind inside the first five minutes when Kermorgant headed home Garath McCleary’s cross.
Latics quickly tried to respond with Michael Jacobs testing Al Habsi, and a backheeled effort from Dan Burn which was narrowly wide of the post.
But then there was a major setback on 21 minutes when Shaun MacDonald suffered a double leg fracture following a challenge by George Evans, who received a yellow card.
Max Power replaced McDonald as they looked to get back into the game.
Jacobs fired over the crossbar and then Powell had two efforts in quick succession, first seeing a near post shot saved in the 29th minute, then shooting high over from 12 yards only a minute later.
Powell might have levelled on 35 minutes but Al Habsi saved his diving header from ten yards.
Powell was causing plenty of problems but couldn’t quite make his efforts count. On 42 minutes he played a one-two with Jacobs in the box, but his shot only hit the side netting.
Latics’ situation got worse just before the interval as the injured Burke had to be replaced by Callum Connolly. Powell then had another half-chance when he failed to make contact with Connolly’s low cross, and the teams went into half time with the Royals one goal to the good.
Latics continued to press at the beginning of the second half with Burn seeing his close range header deflected for a corner then Connolly put Jamie Hanson’s cross into the side netting.
Powell then fired at Al Habsi’s goal after 59 minutes and tried his luck from long range after 65 minutes, both efforts just wide of the target.
Barrow made the last change on 79 minutes with Omar Bogle replacing Powell but Latics could not make the breakthrough and relegation was confirmed.
Overall, it’s been a dreadful season at Latics and perhaps the most disappointing aspect is that many of the problems have been self-inflicted.
League One title winning manager Gary Caldwell was unnecessarily sacked after only 14 games and the appointment of Warren Joyce was an unmitigated disaster.
Joyce was out of his depth in the Championship and he introduced a negative style of football, which was not only ineffective in accruing points but also deeply unappealing to watch.
Interim manager Graham Barrow offered some limited respite from the defeats with home wins against Rotherham and Barnsley but the damage had already been done.
Owner Dave Whelan and Chairman David Sharpe have to take responsibility for the poor decisions and must think very carefully when they appoint the new manager as they prepare for life as a League One club.