Chesterfield went into their last match of the season needing to win and have three other results go their way, to have any hope of reaching the play-offs. John Sheridan made four changes to the side that lost at Accrington, bringing Whing, Austin, Allot and Conlon back in for Goodall, Boshell, Gray and Small.
The sell-out crowd was heavy with the emotion attached to the occasion of Saltergate's last hurrah, but they set that aside to get behind the team from the first whistle. The side started brightly against their already-promoted opponents and Mark Allott saw a low strike from the edge of the box saved on 2, after good work in the set-up from Jack Lester.
A neat attacking move on 5 saw the ball reach Drew Talbot, and his left-wing cross was blocked at the expense of the game's first corner. Demontagnac's cross from the short move was blocked for another corner, which Bradbury headed clear. Another Talbot cross produced another fruitless corner kick before Pitman tried his luck from fully forty yards, missing to Lee's left-hand side.
Page headed a dangerous cross away from six yards out on 13 for Bournemouth's first corner. As the visitors came more into the game Lee had to hold a low Feeney shot after good set-up play from Cummings. Conlon fed Lester on 19 and his neat turn produced a shooting opportunity, but Jalal held the ball at his near post.
Talbot set up Allott on 21 and his shot was deflected behind. At the other end Page was on hand again to clear from his own six-yard box; from the throw Hollands attempted a lob but the ball sailed over the Kop crossbar. A clever Niven interception on 29 set Demontagnac away but his cross was again blocked for a corner. An Allott shot on 31 was spilled by Jalal, who took exception to Lester's attempts to force the loose ball home.
Lee saved a Pitman free kick after Breckin had fouled and Niven saw a shot deflected after Conlon and Lester had worked the ball into his path.
Bournemouth took the lead in an unlikely fashion on 42. A Cummings corner was cleared but, under pressure from two visiting forwards, the return flew off the head of Drew Talbot at the near post, and into the net. The Spireites had a chance to equalise but Conlon headed Lester's cross back across the six-yard box, instead of goalwards.
Halftime: Chesterfield 0 AFC Bournemouth 1.
Attendance: 7,702. with 686 visitors
A Bournemouth corner on 46 resulted in a foul on a defender in the penalty box, and the danger passed. Chesterfield then went forward with purpose from an Austin punt but Conlon was reckoned to have fouled in working the chance for a shot. Lester saw a shot blocked and Allott's drive was deflected for a corner. This was forced over for another flag kick. Page was pulled over by his marker in the penalty area, but the referee declined to award a spot kick.
Lester held the ball up on the edge of the box on 55 to give Niven the chance of a shot; he had two, and both were blocked. Conlon rifled the second rebound homebut was in an obvious offside position.
The game took an unaccountably nasty turn on 56 when Bentley, without provocation, elbowed Allott in the face. With the Chesterfield player prostrate and in obvious discomfort, the referee saw fit only to book the Bournemouth man. Bradley followed Bentley into the book on 63 for an awful foul on Lester, who eventually got up to take the free kick, firing over from the edge of the box.
Robinson got a toe to a loose ball in the Chesterfield box and Lee stuck out a hand to turn the ball aside for a corner. Bowery replaced Conlon on 66. Breckin became the first Chesterfield man booked for blocking the path of Pitman. McQuoid replaced Feeney after 70 minutes. Almost immediately Lee went at full stretch to tip a Pitman header onto the post. Bowery saw a close-range shot blocked at the far post after Jalal had spilled another cross.
Rundle replaced Talbot after 75 and Fletcher was replaced by Connell, with "Guns" receiving the usual fine reception from the home fans.
Chesterfield continued to press and Hollands was booked for kicking the ball away at a free kick. The Spireites fashioned an equaliser after a prolonged session of head tennis on 81. Bowery helped the ball on to JACK LESTER who lashed the ball powerfully past Jalal from twelve yards. Jack very nearly gave Chesterfield the lead soon after, directing Demontagnac's cross against the post. A visiting player helped the ball back to his keeper, who picked it up, but the match official didn't see it as a back-pass.
Garry replaced Cummings with six minutes remaining. Allott was booked for a block on McQuoid and Austin saw a header from a corner cleared off the Bournemouth line as Chesterfield began to kitchen-sink it in search of a winner. Page went into the book for an elbow on Pitman as the fourth official extended Saltergate's working life by six minutes. The concerted press forward left gaps at the back, of course, and Bartley shot against the bar; the rebound was passed back to Lee, who colly chested the ball down under his crossbar and wellied it up the field.
Allott threw one as long as he could without time for a run-up and this was cleared to the edge of the box. In came DEREK NIVEN to hammer the ball past the despairing dive of Jalal and into the net to register the last-ever goal at the Recreation Ground, with only forty-five seconds remaining. It also happened to be the winning goal. A good-natured pitch invasion resulted: to everyone's amusement one youngster in a wheelchair got twenty yards on before being rushed off by an embarrassed helper. When the final whistle blew soon after the scene was repeated. Everyone, nearly, was on the pitch; there were speeches from the Directors' Box and the crowd was given the time it needed to take in its last views of the old stadium. Elsewhere, two of those three results went the club's way, but Dagenham won to cement the last play-off place.