BURY are back where they belong, according to manager David Flitcroft after his side secured promotion to League One on the final day of the season.

Wild scenes greeted the final whistle at Prenton Park as the 2,300 travelling Shakers supporters stormed on to the pitch for a second time to celebrate with the players.

Many made a bee-line for match-winner Tom Soares, whose only goal of the game on 61 minutes sparked the first pitch invasion of the afternoon.

Victory secured a club-record points tally of 85 and extended Bury’s record run of away wins to eight.

And it proved enough to topple Southend from third place in the table, Phil Brown’s side dropping down to fifth below Wycombe following a 3-1 defeat at Morecambe.

Flitcroft and his team went straight back to the JD Stadium after the final whistle to continue the celebration with fans and he promised it would be a night to live long in the memory.

“It means a lot to everyone connected with the football club to be where I feel we should be, which is in League One,” he said.

“I’ve felt that from the moment I walked into the football club and it is where I wanted to take them.

“The work starts now (on next season), but we will enjoy this moment. I want to spend time with these people because what they have achieved for this football club is fantastic.”

The feelings of joy and elation at the final whistle masked what was a fraught afternoon for the Shakers and their supporters.

They started the day two points behind Southend, who occupied the third and final automatic promotion place, and were relying on the Shrimpers slipping up on the Lancashire coast.

Morecambe went ahead in the fourth minute, triggering an excited response from the Bury faithful, only for Phil Brown’s promotion chasers to equalise soon after to quell the mood in the away end at Prenton Park.

The clearly nervous Bury players tightened further as messages were relayed from the terraces.

And Tranmere seemed intent on capitalising in what was their final Football League game for the foreseeable future after the basement club were relegated the previous weekend.

Max Power was a key figure for the Wirral club, booked early in the game as he made his presence felt before having a superb volleyed goal ruled out after initially controlling the ball with his hand.

It took a while for the referee’s decision to become clear as the tannoy blared out celebration music.

But as the Bury end breathed a collective sigh of relief, the shock seemed to snap the players into action.

The Shakers started to work their way back into the game after that and Danny Mayor came close to scoring after his 12-yard strike hit the stanchion behind the goal.

Owen Fon Williams then made a fine double save, palming away a fierce Soares shot before getting down to gather Andew Tutte’s follow-up.

Sensing the need to change the flow of the game, Flitcroft made a double substitution at half time and his attacking intentions were rewarded with Soares’ opener.

The goal itself did not do justice to the build up as Danny Mayor fed Chris Hussey on the left before the full-back’s centre was at first miss-controlled before Soares stabbed the ball home from six yards.

As the ball settled in the net all hell broke loose – fans flooded on to the pitch as Soares was mobbed near the byline and the majority of the Bury bench ran half the length of the pitch to join the celebrations.

Danny Rose, who had been stripped off ready to come, led the charge of the substitutes but was promptly sat back down as calm was restored, with holding midfielder Chris Sedgwick sent on in his place.

Bury attempted to lock the game down for the final 20 minutes as Sedgwick, making his final appearance before announcing his retirement, sat alongside Kelvin Etuhu in the middle of the park.

And they succeeded in stifling Tranmere’s attempts to be party poopers until space opened up in front of Power in the box, only for central defender Adam El-Abd to stretch out a leg for a telling challenge.

The final whistle came after four excruciating minutes of added time, triggering an outpouring of emotion as Flitcroft dedicated the promotion to his players.

“I did feel two weeks ago that 85 points would be a milestone that if you reached that and you didn’t get up you would be disappointed,” he said, after leading Bury to 13 wins from their last 16 games to get over the finish line.

“That’s the record that we have set and I am delighted for our group of players to get that result.

“This has been a real team effort.

“I have got 22 players in there that deserve to have promotion on their CV because they have given everything for the football club.

“I really do want to make sure this group of players get celebrated for the achievement they have made this season.”

TRANMERE (4-3-1-2): Fon Williams; Ihiekwe, Donacien, Dugdale, Hill; Power, Jennings, Donnelly (Omotola 77); Koumas (Kirby 90); Odejayi, Hume (Jago 90).

Not used: Pilling, Laird, Stockton, Gumbs.

BURY (4-4-2): Pope 8; Riley 7, Cameron 8, El-Abd 9, Hussey 8; Soares 8, Etuhu 8, Tutte 6 (Jones 8 46), Mayor 7; Hope 7 (Nardiello 7 46), Lowe 7 (Sedgwick 7 66).

Not used: Lainton, Adams, O'Brien, Rose.

Goals: Tranmere 0 Bury 1 (Soares 61) Yellow cards: Tranmere – Power 14, Koumas 45+2, Jennings 80. Bury – El-Abd 34, Nardiello 88.

Referee: Simon Hooper.

Attendance: 7,518 (visiting 2,300).

Star man: Adam El-Abd – Nick Pope was preparing to fend off a free shot from six yards in the fourth minute of injury time when El-Abd arrived out of nowhere to put in what the goalkeeper described as a match-winning tackle. It was the kind of gritty intervention that manager David Flitcroft had in mind when recruiting the 30-year-old in November on loan from Bristol City. His arrival triggered the start of a defensive reshuffle that proved a turning point in Bury’s season. Pope and full-back Joe Riley followed and the most important of a run of 11 clean sheets in 24 matches sent the Bury faithful into rapture.