Chesterfield’s hopes of lifting the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for a second time in three seasons were quashed at the hands of Peterborough United.
The Spireites showed plenty of spirit and determination in Sunday’s Wembley showdown but came unstuck against the ten men from League One.
Josh McQuoid’s poacher’s finish from close range put the Posh ahead before Shaun Brisley’s towering header doubled their advantage at the break.
Eoin Doyle gave the travelling blue army from north Derbyshire something to cheer with a composed finish after Sam Morsy’s driving run from midfield.
Chesterfield’s tails were up and they were given a boost when Peterborough were reduced to ten men when Joe Newell was shown a straight red card.
But a penalty from Posh’s leading marksman, Britt Assombalonga, ended any thoughts of a second half come back for Paul Cook’s battling troops.
Sir Alex Ferguson was in the crowd to see his son, Darren, claim a JPT double after he had won the competition as a player in 2005 with Wrexham.
Chesterfield fans roared their team on from the first whistle to the last, never wavering in their support or belief.
Their side gave them plenty of encouragement too, as Cook’s men settled quickly and saw plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges.
Ian Evatt was sharp into the tackle, in the air and on the floor on his fourth appearance at the country’s national stadium.
The Spireites could feel themselves hard done by when Doyle went to ground under the close attention of Brisley.
Referee Andy D’Urso remained unmoved. There was contact but the man in the middle clearly didn’t think there was enough.
Their opponents, Peterborough, were cheap in possession and looked to exploit the pace of Assombalonga at every turn.
Tommy Rowe enjoyed some success on the left of the Posh attack as they looked to get in behind the Chesterfield back line. Evatt and Liam Cooper threw themselves into harm’s way to deny Newell from close range before Peterborough took the lead.
Brisley was first to Danny Swanson’s corner to power a header towards goal Tommy Lee could only palm away from goal.
But McQuoid was lurking and forced in the rebound from close range to give Posh a lead largely against the run of play.
It was then Peterborough’s turn to have a penalty claim turned down when Assombalonga sneaked in behind Cooper and went to ground.
If Doyle’s wasn’t a penalty, that certainly wasn’t.
There was worse to come from Gary Roberts who was also unsuccessful in his appeal for a spot kick.
Nathaniel Knight-Percival made a vital interception to take the ball away from Morsy charging in to meet Jay O’Shea’s corner.
Lee bravely dived at the feet of Newell after Rowe again got to the byline and pulled the ball back into the six yard box.
There were glimmers of hope for Chesterfield when Doyle flashed the ball across goal behind the onrushing O’Shea.
Roberts sent in an inviting delivery that was only a matter of inches away from Doyle, who would have surely levelled.
Morsy had a glorious chance from six yards after Darikwa had got to the byline and crossed but the midfielder sliced wide.
And skipper Evatt would have felt he should have done better when he was left unmarked to head Roberts’ delivery straight at Bobby Olejnik.
Peterborough made them pay soon after when Brisley again rose highest to meet Swanson’s corner and sent a thunderous header into the top corner.
Chesterfield had kept Assombalonga quiet for the majority of the first half but the striker was shown sight of goal early in the second.
Swanson crossed from the right but Assombalonga fluffed his lines eight yards out. Swanson curled over from the edge of the area.
But the Spireites’ persistence paid off moments later when Doyle swept home from close range after a driving run and cross from Morsy.
It gave the travelling blue army a lift and the players responded. Doyle was inches away from making a connection to meet Roberts’ clipped pass.
Lee had to be alert to pounce on Grant McCann’s long range free-kick which bounced just in front of him diving low to his right.
Chesterfield were given a further boost when Newell was given his marching orders when the red mist set midway through the half.
The Spireites piled on the pressure. Morsy and Roberts were having a growing influence on the game as Posh looked at sixes and sevens.
Peterborough had to change tack and looked to catch Chesterfield on the break. Mark Little advanced down the right and was adjudged to have been clipped by Cooper inside the area.
Mr D’Urso had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Assombalonga calmy passed the ball down the middle of the goal.
It knocked the stuffing out of the Spireites, who introduced Richards late on in a last ditched effort to get back into the game.
Evatt sent a header high and wide from Roberts’ corner as Chesterfield’s hopes of lifting the trophy for a second time in three years dissipated.
Substitute Mason Bennett’s deflected drive from distance had Olejnik scambling across his goal to preserve his side’s two goal advantage in injury time.
Morsy twice went close, his first effort blocked by substitute Craig Alcock before Olejnik plucked his second out of the air.
Tommy Lee blocked from Lloyd Isgrove at the other end.