Tom Crawford’s late winner enabled Chester to grab an all-too-rare away victory from their final match of the season at Barrow.

On a dramatic afternoon at Holker Street, goals from Jordan Archer and Crawford – either side of Jordan White’s equaliser for the hosts – gave caretaker manager Calum McIntyre a first victory since taking charge three games ago, with a youthful side who produced one of their best displays of the campaign.

Barrow however escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, after Woking were beaten 2-1 at the hands of Dover Athletic, and it is the Cards who join Chester, Torquay and Guiseley in being relegated from the National League.

Attentions at the Deva will now turn to the imminent appointment of Chester’s new manager, which could be announced as early as Monday after the club narrowed their search down to a final shortlist of two. Former Leeds United boss Neil Redfearn remains favourite with bookmakers for the role and is understood to still be in the frame.

McIntyre opted to take last weekend’s teenage goalscorer Cain Noble out of the starting line-up along with Nathan Brown, as Myles Anderson and Archer were restored to the team. Gary Roberts (calf) and Dominic Vose were not involved in the squad.

The already-relegated Blues began the day needing to match or better Guiseley’s result at Boreham Wood to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of the table. Barrow meanwhile needed to match Woking’s result against Dover to avoid the dreaded drop.

Barrow looked up for the fight in the opening exchanges, former Norwich striker Grant Holt finding lots of room in the middle third. Blues centre-back James Jones nearly headed into his own net on four minutes before Lewis Walters’ 25-yard drive fizzed wide.

Dan Jones’ long throws were causing big problems for the Blues’ defence and another arrowed delivery evaded everyone and bounced inches wide of Andy Firth’s goalmouth.

Tom Crawford had Chester’s first shot in anger on 14 minutes, but Steve Arnold gathered comfortably, Crawford and Craig Mahon then combining to feed Jordan Gough, who fired over from 25 yards.

Firth got down smartly to deny Jones from 30 yards with a fine half-volley but it was Chester who grabbed a shock lead on 20 minutes.

Firth punted a long kick downfield which bypassed a static Bluebirds defence and found Archer, who dribbled 20 yards into the area and stabbed the ball home from 12 yards out in front of the delighted travelling faithful. A potentially huge goal in the relegation battle.

News of a Dover goal at Woking was met by roars of approval from the Holker Street stands, but it was Chester in the ascendancy as Halls’ powerful strike from 18 yards out struck Asa Hall on the lead and deflected over.

Crawford wasted a good chance as he chose to shoot 35 yards out rather than laying in Mahon, Hall then blasting well wide for the hosts from the edge of the box.

Holt’s header was easily saved by Firth, who took a knock off Moussa Diarra in the process, as the Blues went into half-time with the advantage and Barrow getting nervous after news of Woking’s leveller filtered through.

Ryan Astles’ downward header nearly doubled Chester’s lead but it hit Akintunde who knew little about it and bobbled harmlessly into Arnold’s gloves. Crawford curled a free-kick well over the bar but it was the Blues who were much the better side.

Walters dribbled into the Chester box but overran the ball at the vital moment, however the hosts were soon level.

Teenage full-back Matthew Thomson gave away possession with a poor error on the edge of the area and former Wrexham striker White capitalised as he lashed home a powerful snap-shot into the corner of Firth’s net.

Tony Diagne’s left-footed drive from 25 yards flew over the bar as Barrow pressed for a vital winner.

Hall was wiped out by his goalkeeper Arnold as the duo got in a mix-up with Archer bearing down on goal, Diarra seeing a 20-yard effort deflected behind off Jones at the other end.

Calum MacDonald was inches away from a second Barrow goal as his 20-yard free-kick flashed wide of Firth’s upright.

The Blues re-took the lead on 76 minutes. Halls’ ball found Akintunde in the box and both he and Archer caused problems for the defence, who failed to clear and left Crawford the task of toe-poking the ball home from eight yards out.

Walters wasted a shooting opportunity on 85 minutes as he blazed wide from 18 yards, Halls with a tame effort at the other end after a counter-attack sparked by Akintunde. Halls was shown a late yellow card for a pull back on Diarra.

News of a Dover winner at Woking sparked wild celebrations amongst the home fans, but the Blues fully deserved their three points as they finished a dismal campaign on a rare high.

Barrow: Arnold, MacDonald (Waterston 80), Diagne, Diarra, Hall, Walters, Jones (Fitzpatrick 85), Gomis, White, Holt (Panayiotou 80), James; Subs: Dixon, Cook.

Chester: Firth, Thomson, Anderson, Jones, Astles, Halls, Crawford, Gough, Mahon (Brown 73), Archer (White 89), Akintunde; Subs: Noble, Hellawell, Downes.

Man of the match: Tom Crawford

Referee: Peter Wright – 8/10 – Very good performance, kept his cards firmly in his pocket and kept full control.

Attendance:1,788 (98 away)

Match rating: 7/10