The edge was taken off this match 24 hours earlier when Wycombe Wanderers only managed a goalless draw at Torquay United.
That meant that the Chairboys couldn’t catch John Sheridan’s team and promotion, which had looked inevitable for weeks, was finally confirmed.
Bury’s win over Lincoln City on Good Friday also meant that the coveted Championship was out of reach in this game. That means this afternoon’s encounter at the B2net against the second-placed Shakers has become a huge event with a simple scenario. If Chesterfield win, they’re champions!
All of the maths, though, didn’t dent the enthusiasm of the large travelling following. From well before the match and constantly throughout it, they sang of their team’s success, lauded the individuals that formed it and praised the manager in a party atmosphere as the sun shone.
On the final whistle, the Chesterfield players and management celebrated in front of their supporters with the enthusiasm that made you think that the single point gleaned in this 0-0 draw was the one that confirmed the step up.
When they all returned to the dressing room, Sheridan’s post-match summary was in the ‘business as normal’ mode. He praised keeper Tommy Lee for making several saves at crucial times as the players sat quietly and listened. There was no champagne, no lording it up, no triumphalism, just inner satisfaction.
With the Bury game in mind, Sheridan rested defender Dean Holden and striker Jack Lester, bringing in the club’s longest serving player, Derek Niven, and a man who can now boast five career promotions, Ian Breckin.
In stifling heat, the game started slowly, with Craig Davies, a former Oxford player, and ex-Owl Steve MacLean trading shots.
Deane Smalley almost nipped in after keeper Ryan Clarke fluffed his lines and Drew Talbot made a fine tackle to rob Josh Payne.
Clarke got his body behind a Mark Allott piledriver ahead of Talbot making another key tackle to deny the impressive Alfie Potter.
Lee had to save well to prevent the lively Potter in a three-on-two break just before half-time.
MacLean drilled a 25-yarder inches wide and Lee’s legs came to the rescue as James Constable looked set to pounce. Davies volleyed a Breckin flick from a corner just over ahead of a few last-gasp scrambles that could have won it for the visitors.
Sheridan was pleased enough with his team’s efforts. “It was a very good game to watch for a 0-0 draw,” he said. “Both keepers have made saves, there were chance at both ends so full credit to both sets of players who had a real go. Both sides wanted to win the game; you could see the commitment on a boiling hot day. I’ll take a point against a very good Oxford side.
“They’ve had a right go, we’ve had a few opportunities. I’d like to have won the game and we tried to.”
The numbers finally stack up and the manager commented on his previous reluctance to use the ‘P’ word.
“I’ve not mentioned the word ‘promotion’ too much but in the back of my mind I always thought we had a really, really good chance of getting it so to finally achieve it is great, for everyone who’s worked hard at the club to get us where we are,” he said.
“But my main plaudits go out to the players.
“Going in to the Bury game, we all know what’s at stake in front of a full house against a very good side so hopefully we can carry on doing what we have been doing of late at home and win the game and win the league.”
It’s best home record against best away record at the B2net today. Bury, with five straight wins behind them, will be without the suspended pair of Damien Mozika and Efe Sodje for the game. Caretaker boss Richie Barker, who as a player represented Sheffield Wednesday, Doncaster Rovers and Rotherham United, has yet to drop a point.
Chesterfield’s players know that they need to do to see off Bury to clinch the silverware that their domination of the division deserves. The job they all set out to achieve at the start of the season will then finally be done and the players’ own party will start.