Brentford will win promotion from npower League One if they beat Doncaster Rovers next week after they drew 1-1 with Hartlepool United in their final away game of the season.
The Bees fell behind to a Luke James got but Marcello Trotta levelled it up late in the first half.
Brentford dominated the majority of the match, after the home side had the better of the first half hour, but could not find a way through against the already-relegated home side.
Doncaster started the penultimate weekend of the season top of the table but were beaten at home by Notts County in their final home game, a match that finished before Brentford kicked off in front of the television cameras.
A win would have left The Bees needing only a point next week in the final game of the campaign but they could not find the crucial goal and need three points next week to win promotion.
Bradley Wright-Phillips had an early sight of goal, lifting a shot over after robing Simon Walton in midfield but Brentford were pushed back in the early stages.
Hartlepool proved they were probably a little better than their league position and rose to the challenge of taking on the promotion-chasing visitors in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
They had an obvious height advantage at set pieces too and Brentford had to work hard to keep the hosts out from corners and free kicks.
The Bees cleared an early Sam Collins header before Simon Moore saved a deflected Walton free kick and Jonathan Franks saw a shot hit a defender and bounce wide.
Trotta had a volley on the turn saved but Brentford were second best in the first half hour.
The teams matched up with three central midfield players but Hartlepool looked better in the system and picked up more of the second balls.
Kevin O’Connor – pressed in to service in the centre of defence due to the absence through suspension of Tony Craig – made a vital block after James cut inside but the Hartlepool striker was not to be denied soon after.
Shaleum Logan played a poor ball back towards his own goal and James got away, his cross found Jack Baldwin and although Harlee Dean blocked the first shot, James followed up to smash in.
Scott Flinders had tipped over a Jake Reeves shot just before the goal but Brentford needed to change their shape, to 4-4-2 with Toumani Diagouraga moving out to the left, to take a measure of control.
They almost equalised when Trotta and Wright-Phillips combined in the inside left channel, the former got in a shot that was blocked and when the latter followed up, Hartlepool defenders blocked again.
Brentford were still having to throw bodies in the way in defence – a Walton shot was blocked before a Richie Humphreys effort following a short free kick flew in to a defensive wall and Collins’ header from the resulting corner was scrambled away.
The Bees levelled six minutes before half time through Trotta.
It started when O’Connor released Lee Hodson down the right, his cross was met by Jonathan Douglas and Flinders managed to tip the diving header on to the post before his defence scrambled it away.
They did not, however, get it far – Hodson put it back in, Trotta wriggled free and fired low in to the bottom corner.
Brentford grew on the back of the goal and were in complete command for the later stages of the first period.
Flinders saved from Trotta before Diagouraga headed a Logan cross wide on the stretch.
Douglas had a shot blocked in first half stoppage time after working his way superbly in to the penalty area and Trotta headed wide.
Brentford continued to hold the upper hand at the start of the second half.
A Wright-Phillips cross-cum-shot landed on the roof of the net and Trotta shot over after being released by Douglas.
The second period was all Brentford in terms of territory and possession but there weren’t many clear cut chances for the majority of the second 45.
Tom Adeyemi had a shot that hit Trotta on its way towards goal and a Jake Bidwell header was cleared off the line.
Neil Austin curled a free kick over for the home side but that was a rare attack in the first 30 minutes of the second half.
Harry Forrester had a shot saved after a nice turn on the edge of the box and the game became stretched in the later stages as Brentford sought a winner.
Franks shot across the face of goal and Bidwell blocked from Baldwin while Douglas headed wide at the other end.
Adeyemi almost won it for Brentford when he burst through in to the penalty area but Peter Hartley got across to divert the shot wide and that was enough to earn his team a point.
Hartlepool United: Flinders; Austin, Collins, Hartley, Holden; Walton; Franks, Baldwin, Humphreys (sub Rutherford 77 mins), Monkhouse (sub Horwood 83 mins); James
Subs (not used): McHugh, Luscombe, Sweeney, Hawkins, Boagey
Bookings: Walton (52 mins)
Brentford: Moore; Logan, Dean, O’Connor, Bidwell; Douglas, Diagouraga, Reeves (sub Adeyemi 65 mins); Hodson (sub Forrester 56 mins), Trotta (sub El Alagui 75 mins), Wright-Philips
Subs (not used): Gounet, Forshaw, Dallas, Saunders
Bookings: O’Connor (34 mins) (second of season)
Attendance: 3,541 (562 Bees fans)
By Chris Wickham