Instead, Fulham heads into the playoffs with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Derby, with one more promotion berth up for grabs.
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After the final whistle, Warnock described guiding the club to promotion as "the biggest achievement in my 38-year career by an absolute mile".
Boss Slavisa Jokanovic was bashful of his sides chances of going above Cardiff, in his pre-match press conference: "Cardiff are in a better position than us, they're depending on themselves".
"It's incredible. I've had some great promotions and great squads, but because of the circumstances when I came here - second from bottom - and we've built it all the way up". Bolton were going down with three minutes left when Forest led 2-1 after goals from Ben Osborn (70) and Jack Colback (79) overturning Adam Le Fondre's early volley.
A point for either side should confirm their status.
"I know we're not easy on the eye". They got goals from Christian Atsu and Yoan Gouffran.
"We'll be odds-on favourites to be relegated but were 33-1 to get into the play-offs [this season], never mind promotion".
At the bottom, meanwhile, Sunderland's relegation had already been confirmed (though they signed off in style by beating champions Wolves 3-0 at the Stadium of Light), but there were still two more places to be decided.