A goal in each half meant defeat for Spireites but Rochdale’s failure to beat MK Dons ensured they made the play-offs.
Chesterfield showed some class by providing a Guard of Honour to welcome Champions Bristol City onto the pitch ahead of the impeccably respected silence to remember the victims of the Bradford fire on the day in 1985 that Spireites were awarded the Division Four Championship.
Darikwa burst into the box but his cross was cut out just as it looked to be set for Roberts. City won the first corner that was comfortably dealt with as the game started in a terrific atmosphere.
Gardner earned a corner but the quickly taken short routine was defended well by the Champions.
Spireites front four were constantly switching round with Roberts and Gardner having spells as the furthest forwards as they maintained decent possession without threat, City too were being kept at bay as defences were on top in the early moments of the contest.
Darikwa’s cross was deflected for a corner and as the ball went over news came through that MK Dons were one up at Spotland and there was a great roar around three sides of the Proact.
Bryan hit well wide from a rare Robins raid. Fielding grabbed a Gardner cross well as Chesterfield continued to look capable of picking up the result the home fans desire.
Pack erred at the pack, giving O’Shea the ball, he found Ryan but the midfielder was denied by the legs of the keeper. Lee then had to do well, scooping away an angled shot from Bryan for a corner that Agard hit wide.
More noise at the Proact as Rochdale fell two behind and the play-offs moved ever closer and the importance of that scoreline was highlighted moments later, on 31, when a ball in from the right was slid home by ex Miller AGARD, a well crafted goal that shows just why City are where they are in the standings.
Darikwa cut the ball back and O’Shea managed to get something on it to force Fielding to save and the keeper was busy again moments later catching high a Ryan chipped shot.
Emmanuel-Thomas hit wide and Agard was denied by Lee as City looked to extend their lead.
Evatt had to work hard to nick the ball off Freeman’s toes ahead of Spireites’ first attack of the second half which saw Clucas’s cross fly out for a corner that was cleared.
Banks came on for Gardner. Flint denied O’Shea inside the box as the early play ebbed and flowed with both sides showing plenty of desire.
Roberts’ ball for Clucas was perfect but the striker’s first touch took it slightly away from him but his second forced a great stop from Fielding ho caught Evatt’s header from the resulting corner.
Evatt and Darikwa combined to defend well but concede a corner that saw FLINT head home at the far post with 58 played.
Roberts won a corner on the right, took it himself but City cleared. Freeman and Bryan both made terrific bursts forwards but their colleagues were just not quite on the same level to make their superb play count.
Rochdale pulled a goal back, they need to win to clip Spireites’ wings just as Blades went behind in East London. Ariybi came on for Ryan and won a corner with his first touch but O’Shea’s ball was headed clear. Cunningham replaced Bryan.
Roberts hammered the bar with a terrific free-kick after a foul on Morsy just as Blades leveled at Orient. News of MK Dons’ third at Rochdale allayed any fears that may have threatened to take over home feelings and there was a ripple of relief around the stands.
Clucas’s run was skilful, he fed Morsy but his shot was blocked. Smith fouled Ariybi on the left of the box, Roberts took the free-kick and a corner was forthcoming but it was cleared. Wagstaff replaced Freeman, Harrison came on for O’Shea and Elliott for Emmanuel-Thomas.
Dale pulled a late one back to trail 3-2, but they need to win, so nothing too disastrous!!
Roberts hit a free-kick just over.
Never has any Chesterfield side won back-to-back promotions, so can Paul Cook make history by making that happen and see Spireites back in tier two for the first time in 60-odd years? The dreaming can officially begin right now.
Chesterfield: Lee; Darikwa, Evatt, Hird, Jones; Ryan, Morsy; O’Shea, Roberts, Gardner; Clucas. Subs: Carter, Raglan, Humphreys, Banks, Ariyibi, Harrison, Gnanduillet.
Bristol City: Fielding, Williams, Flint, Smith, Emmanuel-Thomas, Freeman, Agard, Pack, Ayling, Bryan, Tavernier. Subs: Richards, Osborne, Elliott, Wagstaff, Cunningham.
Referee: Peter Banks (Bootle).