Preston manager Alan Irvine was "bitterly disappointed" after watching his side surrender their chance to reach the Premier League with a narrow 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United.
The Lancashire club have now failed to get through the play-offs on four occasions since winning promotion from League One in 2000 but Irvine was quick to point out the progress his side had made this season.
He was also gracious in defeat, saying: "We wanted to go the next step and then the one after that, so we're all clearly very disappointed. I can't speak for previous play-offs and it wasn't down to luck this time in any case."
He added: "Sheffield United were better than us in both games and deserved to go through overall. But we've made great progress and the lads can be very proud and I told them that.
"As a result of their hard work they've managed to progress to a level nobody expected."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms