Saturday’s script was almost written for Dan Gardner to play a leading role – but in the end he settled for a show stopping cameo.
The attacking midfielder came on in the second half against Bury for his first Chesterfield appearance since going on loan to the Shakers.
And within two minutes, he had scored the goal that put an exclamation mark on the afternoon’s headline – League One status secured.
Gardner relished the chance to make an impact in front of a bumper crowd.
“It was just a mad day. We needed the win, so I was just happy to get the three points.
“To score was a bonus, it was a bit weird to score against a few of the lads I had just left.
“It was more open, there was more time on the ball, that’s what I like. It was an ideal situation for me to come on and help get another goal.
“I think it was from their corner, Gboly (Ariyibi) got the ball at the corner of our box and spotted me making a break for it, and played a nice pass in front of me.
“I took a decent touch, ran on a bit and and played it to Jay O’Shea and he worked a bit of magic like always and gave me an easy tap in.
“I enjoyed the moment, the crowd were bouncing, it was close to a full house so it was good to score for them.
“They deserved a performance like that from the boys and a few goals.”
Events at the Proact last week led Gardner to suspect he might get a game.
“It did seem like it in the build up in training, I was training quite well and he put me in the shape.
“I can see why the gaffer called me back, if I had stayed there I wouldn’t have been able to play anyway.
“All the way leading up to the game I thought I had a good chance of playing, but the lads have been doing okay in my position and I’m sure it was a hard decision for him.
“I came on and made an impact so everyone was happy.”
Staying clear of the drop was the objective, but Gardner revealed that there were no wild scenes in the dressing room: “It wasn’t too high and it wasn’t too low,” he said.
“There wasn’t any celebrating because I don’t think we should be in that position anyway.
“Someone said smile and the lads were like ‘we’ve avoided relegation, but we should be at the other end of the table’. It’s been a bit of a bad season.
“Hopefully a better personal and team performance next season will put us back up there.”