After weeks of needing calculators to work out exactly when promotion would be achieved, Chesterfield fans entered the stadium knowing exactly what was needed from this game. Beat Bury and Spireites would be Champions.
They didn’t make it though, twice hitting back, but failing to hold on as Ryan Lowe scored three minutes before the end of normal time to win it for Richie Barker’s men, his sixth win in six games as caretaker.
Bury set their stall out early when Tom Lees headed them into the lead. There was no chance they were overawed by the atmosphere as many others had been in previous top of the table clashes.
After a shocking opening 45 from the hosts, Craig Davies levelled early in the second but David Worrall soon restored Shakers’ lead. Davies played a superb dummy to let in Jack Lester who finished with aplomb to even things up again.
Lester and Dean Holden returned to the line-up in front of another sell-out home crowd.
Former Chesterfield player Phil Picken was absent with a hamstring injury whilst Efe Sodje and Damien Mozika were both suspended for Bury.
Before kick-off, Mark Allott was presented with a memento from the club to commemorate his 300th league appearance for the club.
The game kicked off amidst a terrific atmosphere with Bury’s huge following playing a massive part in proceedings.
Steven Schumacher confirmed the tension when he was booked for a foul on Lester after just 90 seconds.
Lester almost found a way through early on but Lees nicked the ball off his toes to allow the nippy Kyle Bennett to show his skills but it was Nicky Ajose that earned the set play, almost rounding Tommy Lee, which allowed Bury to take the lead. From the subsequent left wing corner, the giant Ben Futcher headed back across the face for Lees to head a simple goal from close in.
Lee and Dean Holden had to intervene to deny Lowe and then Michael Jones as Shakers started brightly. Lees headed wide from that corner and Ajose hit the side netting from a counter-attack.
Spireites gradually began to find ways of dealing with Shakers’ speed-merchants but they were finding it difficult to penetrate a well organised back line.
Derek Niven replaced the out of sorts Dean Morgan, who had picked up a thigh injury, for the second half and immediately the hosts looked more balanced and they were soon level. Niven put the ball into the area, there were two big shouts for a penalty but Davies ignored them to fire home from the edge of the box. It was the Spireites’ first effort of note in the game.
But Chesterfield were caught by another sucker punch when a home corner was cleared quickly and right back Worrall found himself on the edge of the six-yard box to level after Lowe’s initial effort had been blocked.
Lester’s legendary finishing, courtesy of some Davies magic, marked the team’s 56th home league goal of the season. Not since 1956-57 has a Chesterfield side scored more.
The division’s big boys slugged it out in the final exchanges but it was Lowe that had the last laugh, having plenty of time to pick his spot after he received a pass from a right sided corner.
Goals: Davies 51, Lester 63
Booked: Lester 37 foul, Griffiths 41 foul, Davies 51 celebrations, Whitaker 78 foul.
Bury: Belford 6; Worrall 7, Futcher 7, Lees 7, Skarz 6; M.Jones 6 (Haworth 81), Schumacher 6, Sweeney 7, Bennett 7 (John-Lewis 88); Ajose 8, Lowe 6. Subs (not used): Branagan, McCarthy, A.Jones, Rothwell, Harrop.
Goals: Lees 11, Worrell 55, Lowe 87.
Booked: Schumacher 2 foul
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
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