Coventry City sealed an immediate return to League One with a comprehensive win over Exeter in the League Two play-off final at Wembley.
They took a deserved lead after half-time when centre-back Jordan Willis bent a shot into the far corner.
Fellow academy product Jordan Shipley made it 2-0 when his first-time strike deflected over goalkeeper Christy Pym.
Jack Grimmer guided a stunning third into the top corner, with Kyle Edwards netting Exeter’s consolation.
However, it could not prevent a second successive play-off final defeat for Paul Tisdale’s side.
While Coventry’s 28-goal top scorer Marc McNulty did not get on the scoresheet, he was influential throughout, threatening from long range in the first half and later providing two assists.
Exeter’s Ryan Harley and Matt Jay forced Sky Blues goalkeeper Lee Burge into routine saves from outside the box, while Tom Bayliss was thwarted by Pym after a mazy run.
The sky’s the limit for the Sky Blues?
Coventry had been a top-flight team for 34 years until they were relegated from the Premier League in 2001, and it had all been downhill since then.
Two more relegations, off-field turmoil, a temporary relocation to play home matches in Northampton and protests towards owners Sisu have followed, but the tide appeared to have started turning when they lifted the Checkatrade Trophy at Wembley in April 2017.
Mark Robins, in his second spell in charge, took them to a sixth-placed finish in League Two – the first time they have finished that high in any division since 1970, and they now have a first promotion in 51 years.
For Robins, it is his first promotion during a managerial career spanning more than a decade.
With seven academy players in their squad for the final, and approximately 40,000 fans watching on at Wembley, the future certainly looks brighter for the Sky Blues.
End of an era for Exeter?
After Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal, Exeter boss Tisdale is comfortably the longest-serving manager in England’s top four divisions – having arrived at St James Park in June 2006.
He spoke about the importance of continuity after their play-off final defeat by Blackpool last year, but after having notice served on his contract by the club’s fans, he is being linked with the vacant MK Dons job.
With director of football Steve Perryman retiring this summer, is this the last time Tisdale will take charge of Exeter?
If so, his meticulous nature and ability to bring through youngsters will be almost impossible to replace at the Devon side.