In the end it was all very unlike Albion.

The club that revels in drama lost their Championship status, as Mark McGhee put it, "with a whimper".

Survival against overwhelming odds this time was a step too far, a second successive 2-0 home defeat a game too far for players running on empty after Saturday's heroic effort at Ipswich.

Wednesday secured their own survival - and sent Crewe and Millwall down as well with the Seagulls - with relative comfort.

Albion never recovered from Gary Hart's early own goal and a solo effort midway through the second half by Burton O'Brien sealed their fate.

Dean Hammond's subsequent dismissal for a second bookable offence simply compounded the hurt.

The writing has been on the wall since January when, hard though they tried, Albion were unable to sign the striker they so desperately needed.

Wednesday, by contrast, had sufficient financial clout to buy the much-travelled Deon Burton for £100,000 from Rotherham and Worthing-born Marcus Tudgay on loan from Derby, a move which eventually became permanent for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of £300,000.

They, as Wednesday boss Paul Sturrock admitted to McGhee afterwards, have made all the difference and they were central figures in the Seagulls' demise.

Tudgay, one of the many players McGhee was priced out of signing, operated through the middle when he scored the only goal against Norwich at Hillsborough on Saturday.

Sturrock switched him to the right yesterday - a role familiar to him at Derby - to occupy young Joel Lynch.

Sturrock also brought in pacey on-loan Southampton teenager Leon Best to test the ageing legs of Guy Butters.

The tactic paid off, Hart's own goal in the eighth minute rudely halting Albion's initial momentum.

Tudgay, good in the air considering his average size, had already tested Wayne Henderson with a driven cross when he looped a header on towards Burton.

He got the better of Butters as the ball bounced and, when he crossed low and hard, the diving Henderson's hand diverted it against Hart's shin and into the net.

Conceding a goal so early and in such a fashion in a game they knew they had to win knocked the stuffing out of the Seagulls for a while.

It was not until the closing stages of the first half that they seriously suggested an equaliser could be forthcoming.

Hammond had a header from Richard Carpenter's corner hooked off the line at the far post by Wednesday fullback John Hills.

Just before the break Albion fashioned their clearest opening of the afternoon, when a diagonal punt from Lynch enabled Gifton Noel-Williams to set up Paul Reid inside the Wednesday area.

The Australian's shot was blocked with his legs by on-loan Liverpool keeper Scott Carson and Graham Coughlan got in the way of Hammond's follow-up.

The visitors were creaking a bit at that stage and you sensed if Albion could get level they might just go on to win.

Desperate situations call for desperate measures and the introduction of left winger Alex Frutos for the second half, at the expense of Kerry Mayo, was soon followed by the arrival of the other French flanker on the right, Seb Carole replacing Reid.

Colin Kazim-Richards fizzed a low drive narrowly wide from long range but Albion's fading hopes were extinguished by O'Brien in the 69th minute.

Collecting Burton's lay-off midway inside Seagulls territory, the Scot cut inside the space between a leg-weary Hart and the impeded Paul McShane to round Henderson and roll Albion into League One.

At 1-0 there was still a chance, at 2-0 there was none. A supportive Withdean crowd knew it and the players knew it too.

Their frustration was highlighted by bookings for Hart and Carpenter for rash challenges.

In-between, with nine minutes left, Hammond stuck out a leg to bring down Glenn Whelan, under the nose of fussy referee Paul Taylor.

Hammond, booked in the first half for a foul on the same player, received his matching orders, a sad end to a season in which he has worked so hard and improved so much.

The inability to land a striker until the belated arrival of Noel-Williams from Burnley during last month's loan transfer deadline is the most powerful reason for Albion's relegation, but other factors have contributed.

Failure to beat their fellow strugglers cost them dear when they went down three seasons ago under Martin Hinshelwood and Steve Coppell, and it has done so again.

This defeat means they have taken only seven points from the eight games against Wednesday, Millwall, Crewe and Derby, compared to ten from the quartet heading into the play-offs. Albion bounced straight back through the play-offs in McGhee's first season.

He certainly deserves the chance to try again, given his willingness to accept the uphill task faced by any manager until the club secures a home, and with it the finances, worthy of Championship contention.

Albion (4-4-2): Henderson 7; Hart 6, McShane 8, Butters 6, Lynch 6; Reid 6, Carpenter 6, Hammond 6, Mayo 5; Kazim-Richards 6, Noel-Williams 7. Subs: Frutos 5 for Mayo (withdrawn 46), Carole 6 for Reid (withdrawn 56), Hinshelwood for Butters (injured 74), Martin, El-Abd.

Wednesday (4-4-2): Carson; Simek, Coughlan, Bullen, Hills; Tudgay, Whelan, Adams, O'Brien; Burton, Best. Subs: Brunt for Best (injured 72), McGovern, MacLean, Spurr, McAllister.