Sutton achieved the win necessary to keep alive hopes of a Sky Bet League Two play-off place, but were denied that place in the end of season competition as Mansfield, Port Vale and Swindon all did what they needed to do to keep U's an agonising one point short.
In a highly entertaining game in which the woodwork was struck on six occasions, only one of which then ended with a goal, and both goalkeepers made good saves Sutton rounded off a superb first EFL season with a first victory at Harrogate, completing a fifth league double of the season, but there was still an air of disappointment at the end as the players took the deserved acclaim of the 440 supporters who had travelled north hoping to cheer Us over the line in to the end of season competition, with news coming in from other games that none of the scorelines U's needed were materialising.
The afternoon started with long serving Harrogate midfielder Lloyd Kerry, who is retiring from playing but will continue as Head of Recruitment, was given a guard of honour by both teams and it set the tone for an enjoyable game largely played in an excellent spirit, with Kerry's substitution just after the hour again receiving applause from both sets of players.
U's settled the nerves early on as after just seven minutes Isaac Olaofe caught the Harrogate defence napping by running in behind on to Rob Milsom's throw-in, and pulling a psss back for Omar Bugiel, whose shot hit the bar and post but fell for Craig Eastmond, returning after injury, to head in to the net for his first league goal of the season.
It wasn't all good news for Sutton, with Will Randall forced off with a knee injury moments later, replaced by Enzio Boldewijn, and Harrogate enjoyed a good spell which could have produced an equaliser as Rory McArdle's header from a corner came back off a post and was hacked to safety by Milsom, while U's cleared several other threatening situations.
At the other end Harrogate seemed unaware of Joe Kizzi's scoring prowess this season, leaving him unmarked at several set pieces and it could have cost them twice as he ran clear to meet a Dean Bouzanis free kick with a volley which was well saved by Joe Cracknell, and then headed wide at the far post from a corner. The closest U's came to a second goal, though, was when Bugiel surged through the middle before finding Eastmond, whose cross was met by an Olaofe header which bounced back off the post in to Cracknell's arms.
Chances continued to come in the second half, the best of which fell to Jack Diamond as he ran on to Warren Burrell's through pass and went round Bouzanis, but then shot against the post. Bouzanis made a fine save from Pattison, and Diamond headed over, but Bugiel was then desperately unlucky not to score the goal he deserved when he collected a pass from Boldewijn on the edge of the penalty area and floated a superb chip which left Cracknell stranded but again hit the post, the rebound just out of Olaofe's reach.
Bouzanis again denied Pattison, this time with an excellent double save, while Olaofe miskicked in front of a gaping goal after more good work by Bugiel, but with twelve minutes to go he wasn't to be denied a goal to sign off with before returning to Millwall, collecting a fine crossfield pass from Bugiel, turning past a defender and driving towards goal before hitting a low shot (above) which deflected off Burrell to leave Cracknell wrongfooted for the 26th goal of his loan spells, achieved in 80 games. It also left him as U's joint top scorer for the season in league and cup football alongside Ali Smith.
Burrell almost got the final touch to a Sutton goal again soon afterwards, slicing an attempted clearance against his own crossbar after Olaofe's shot had been partially blocked, and the luckless Bugiel saw his spectacular effort from the rebound well saved by Cracknell, but now the focus of U's interest was elsewhere and it soon became clear that hopes of finishing in the play-offs depended on Forest Green grabbing a winner at Mansfield, but that didn't come, with the 2-2 scoreline seeing Forest Green claiming the championship and Mansfield the last play-off place, but U's well deserving of the reception the players received from the supporters at the end.Despite the obvious disappointment, it reflected a quite outstanding effort for a first EFL season.
Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Kizzi, R Milsom, C Eastmond, B Goodliffe, L John, D Ajiboye(sub D Wilson 75), A Smith, O Bugiel, I Olaofe, W Randall(sub E Boldewijn 10). Subs n/u J Barden, C Rowe, H Beautyman, S Nelson, R Bennett. Booked: Kizzi
Harrogate: J Cracknell, N Sheron, J Austerfield, L Kerry(sub S Power 63) (sub A Martin 80)R McArdle, W Burrell, G Thomson, J Diamond, L Armstrong, J Muldoon(sub C Kavanagh 73), A Pattison. Subs n/u M Beck, L Legge, H Giles
Referee: O Langford
Attendance: 2,484(440 away)