CHESTERFIELD were just 17 minutes away from taking the season into the final weekend, but two Yeovil goals turned the game around to condemn John Sheridan’s side to a return to League Two.
With Leyton Orient losing at Hartlepool and Walsall only drawing with Huddersfield, the necessary parts of the equation elsewhere went the right way.
However, home goals from Luke Ayling and Andy Williams turned the tide in a game that was, in essence, a microcosm of Chesterfield’s whole season.
There was some attacking flair with too many missed chances, decent football in spells and a soft underbelly at the back that conceded too easily, particularly at vital times.
Saturday’s home game against Brentford, themselves out of the play-off race after losing to Sheffield Wednesday, now becomes a dead rubber.
It all started so well. Mark Randall floated in a diagonal ball that mesmerised Paul Huntington but Jordan Bowery was on hand to stab home his 12th of the season from just behind the defender.
That, added to the Glovers’ early loss of striker Jonathan Obika to injury, augured well for the ‘must-win’ strugglers.
Yeovil looked imaginative going forward and their leveller came thanks to an incisive move. Dominic Blizzard was the catalyst for the attack starting and he finished things off from six yards after a ball in from Williams.
The hosts enjoyed the best of the rest of the first 45 and at the break Sheridan switched to his favoured 4-4-2 with Danny Whitaker replacing Jimmy Juan.
Bowery and Craig Westcarr both missed better than decent chances, the latter from only a few feet out, but those chances were forgotten when Whitaker hit goalwards from range and the ball clipped a defender to deflect it over the keeper. Just over 20 minutes to go and the Brentford game was heading for a sell-out, with Whitaker becoming the first ever Spireite to score off the bench in three consecutive games.
The joy was short-lived, though, as early sub Kieran Agard turned on the edge of the box to fire in an equaliser.
Westcarr had another great chance to save the season but Sam Walker’s fingers did just enough to turn the angled shot behind in what turned out to be the last realistic chance to keep the Great Escape alive.
Williams bagged his 50th career league goal and 17th of the season from midfield, crashing in from 25 yards with just 10 minutes remaining to all but condemn Spireites to the drop.
Said Sheridan: “In the second half we really got at them and created lots of opportunities, but I just can’t defend the defending.
“Going 17 games without winning cost us big time. I’ve used too many players, I don’t like changing my team, so I’ve got to take it and, if I’m here, it’s important that we bounce straight back.”
Yeovil (4-4-2): Walker 7, Ayling 6, Huntington 5, Hinds 5, Grounds 6, Blizzard 7, N’Gala 5, D’Ath 7, Williams 7, Obika (Agard 6, 6), Franks 8. Subs (not used): Stewart, Edgar, Haynes-Brown, Brundle.
Chesterfield (4-1-4-1): Lee 7, Talbot 6, Thompson 6, Robertson 7, Ridehalgh 6, Juan 5 (Whitaker 46, 7), Westcarr 5, Randall 6, Moussa 7, Mendy 5 (Boden 79), Bowery 6. Subs (not used): Fleming, Allott, Lowry.
Goals: Blizzard 26, Agard 73, Williams 80 (Yowivil); Bowery 8, Whitaker 69 (Chesterfield).
Referee: Dean Mohareb (Cheshire)