Southend skipper Chris Barker could not hide his disappointment at crashing out of the play-offs and urged his team-mates to bounce back stronger next season to ensure it does not happen again.
Barker's late header at Roots Hall made it 2-2 on the night against Crewe, setting up a nervy finish, but it was the visitors who progressed to the Wembley final 3-2 on aggregate, leaving the Shrimpers to reflect on a season which promised plenty but ultimately fell short.
Barker said: "We didn't turn up in the first half. In the second half I thought we were fantastic but we can't give a two-goal start to a team like Crewe, they're a good passing team but also work very hard as well.
"Eight months of the season have been good, we have been in the top five consistently and also at the top for quite a while but it doesn't count. The boys are absolutely gutted in there and I feel sorry for the fans, the directors and everyone involved in the club.
"We've just got to bounce back. It is going to be horrible watching the final next week. I've been there and done it before, I've won one and now lost two, it's not a nice feeling at all and it is going to be very hard, we have just got to bounce back next season.
"There are a lot of youngsters who have come in from non-league and the youth system who this will hurt a lot and we have said in the changing room to make sure it doesn't happen again because it is not something anyone enjoys."