Notts County secured promotion in a 4-1 win over Morecambe at Meadow Lane this afternoon, helped by a dazzling first half display.
With just a point required to secure a place in League One for next season, a bumper crowd turned up with hopes of a promotion party. Morecambe had promotion aspirations of their own and three points would be vital in their push for the play-offs.
And it was the Shrimps that threatened first after coming out of the traps early, making their attacking intentions clear. Craig Stanley's corner was floated in for Mark Duffy to head just over the crossbar.
At the other end Lee Hughes did manage to trouble the goalkeeper following a well aimed Delroy Facey flick-on. Notts' top-scorer controlled deftly with his chest and volleyed on the turn to force Barry Roche into a superb reaction save.
Hughes didn't waste his second chance, though, following a pin-point delivery from the left by Craig Westcarr. As he's done so many times this term, the striker escaped his marker to power past Roche with his head, before dancing with a joyous Haydn Green Family Stand.
The lead was doubled in spectacular style seven minutes later when the Morecambe defence failed to clear their lines. Connecting with a straggling ball outside the area, Ricky Ravenhill almost tore a hole in the top right corner with a hellacious strike that will certainly go down as a goal of the season contender.
Westcarr narrowly cleared the bar with a stunning punt of his own, before Hughes netted his 30th of the campaign. Holding off his marker, he delicately controlled a floated Ben Davies free-kick from deep and swivelled to place the ball into the far bottom corner.
The Magpies were running riot to the rhythmic beat of the Kop and Hughes could have rounded off yet another hat-trick. Capitalising on a defensive mistake, he raced in behind the visitor's back line, only for his stern attempt to be deflected away by the advancing Roche's knee.
It could have been four prior to the break as well, with David Artell almost directing another teasing Westcarr cross into his own net. Hughes also came close again, heading over from close range.
The opening to the second period was a far cry from the first, with little being created in terms of goalmouth action. Sammy McIlroy's team talk at the break must have been to sure up the defensive department because they looked much sturdier.
Although they looked to present more of an attacking threat, only Stewart Drummond's effort led to Kasper Schmeichel making a save. Notts never looked like being broken down and were maintaining an organised formation.
Johnnie Jackson was handed his first extended run out since returning from injury and he almost got his name on the score sheet. Determination from Neal Bishop allowed his newly introduced midfield partner to fire inches wide of the top left corner.
Morecame finally made a clean breakthrough when Mark Duffy drifted inside from the right flank but his deflected shot looped onto the roof of the crossbar and behind for a corner. From the set-piece the Shrimps pulled one back, as David Artell waited unmarked at the back post to nod into a gaping net.
Any hopes of a revival were soon thwarted by Davies, who converted a low cross from the newly introduced Jamie Clapham. The creative wide man's first strike was stopped by Roche but he didn't hesitate to hammer home the rebound for his 15th goal this term.
This proved to be the final goal of a memorable day for the club and at the final whistle the stadium erupted with emotion. Now another home fixture awaits against second placed Rochdale, where a win would tighten the Magpies' grip on the League Two title.
Attendance: 8,500 (148 Morecambe supporters)
Premier Electrical Services Limited Man of the Match: Ricky Ravenhill
Notts County: Kasper Schmeichel, John Thompson, Mike Edwards, Graeme Lee, Stephen Hunt, Craig Westcarr (Hawley 85), Neal Bishop, Ricky Ravenhill (Jackson 63), Ben Davies, Delroy Facey, Lee Hughes (Clapham 75).
Substitutes: Russell Hoult, Matt Hamshaw, Karl Hawley, Jamie Clapham, Johnnie Jackson, Ben Fairclough, Ade Akinbiyi.
Scorer(s): Hughes 7, Ravenhill 14, Hughes 18, Davies 77
Yellow Card(s): Thompson 21
Morecambe: Barry Roche, Darren Moss, David Artell, Craig Stanley (Hunter 51), Wayne Curtis, Neil Wainwright, Stewart Drummond, Mark Duffy, Paul Mullin (Taylor 90), Andy Parrish, Will Haining.
Substitutes: Scott Davies, Jim Bentley, Garry Hunter, Emmanuel Panther, Fraser McLachlan, Aaron Taylor, Henry McStay.
Scorer(s): Artell 73
Yellow Card(s): Stanley 18, Drummond 58, Artell 90
Red Card(s): None
Report by Dane Vincent