Chester City 1, Scarborough 0: IT WAS one of Chester City's worst performances of the season, but when the final whistle blew on Saturday, noone cared. City were Conference champions.
A capacity Deva Stadium rejoiced in the success of chairman Stephen Vaughan and manager Mark Wright and his players and, anyway, this wasn't about one sub-standard dis-play.
It was about a fantastic season with only three league defeats which put the Blues in their rightful position at the top of the table. Only Hereford United got anywhere near them and if there is any justice, The Bulls will join them back in Division Three next season.
Nearly 6,000 City fans turned up hoping to see a stylish, vintage Chester performance but, deep down, no-one really expected that.
The tension on the pitch spread to the stands and terraces as would-be party-poopers Scarborough, playing their fourth match in eight days, quickly showed they were not there to make up the numbers.
Chester could hardly put two passes together and Daryl Clare, who had more than a football match to worry about and carrying a hip injury, looked nothing like the striker who had rattled in nearly 30 goals in less than a season.
His early miss from a Kevin McIntyre cross was ominous and Scarborough looked menacing with a superb move, probably the best of the match, which ended with Wayne Gill going close.
Michael Twiss had a 15th-minute strike disallowed but, four minutes later, all the tension evaporated when Darryn Stamp pounced on a mistake by Mark Hotte to steer the only goal of the game past Leigh Walker from an acute angle.
The Deva was rocking - but not for long. Scarborough, sensing Chester's nerves, sustained a spell of pressure which threatened City's lead, and with news of Hereford going ahead at Leigh RMI, the victory everyone craved for didn't look so certain.
Gill hit the post as the visitors forced three successive corners, but for all their pressure, Scarborough had failed to force Iain Turner into a meaningful save.
The second half was just as nervy and scrappy and on any other day would probably have had the fans murmuring their discontent - but this was not any other day.
Ben Davies emerged as the one player most likely to put the game safe and he was foiled with a high save by Walker and later fired a shot inches wide.
Three minutes of added time seemed like a lifetime, but with nerve-ends showing, Chester repelled the Scarborough attacks.
The moment referee Glen Turner raised his whistle towards his mouth, the waiting was finally over. Chester City were back in the Football League. Let the party begin.
Chester: Turner, Collins (Elam 57), Guyett, Heard, Bolland, Carden, McIntyre, Twiss (Harris 45), Clare (Rapley 72), Davies, Stamp. Subs: Lane, Woods.
Scarborough: Walker, Hotte, Gilroy, Kerr, Rose (Marcelle 75), Downey, Gill (Senior 84), Hackworth, Lyth, Kelly, Nicholson. Subs: Quayle, Sollitt, Capper.
Referee: G Turner. Attendance: 5,987.