An emotional Jack Lester signed off in style with a farewell goal in front of the Kop on his last career appearance.
Chesterfield’s comfortable win over Exeter brought the curtain down on the striker’s six-year spell with the club and also signalled the end of his playing days.
The former Grimsby Town, Doncaster Rovers, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United man thanked the supporters at half time following a 45 minutes from the Spireites that blew Exeter away.
Jay O’Shea opened the scoring midway through with a spectacular curling effort. Marc Richards soon doubled the host’s advantage with a powerful header before Lester converted Chesterfield’s first penalty of the season.
The man of the hour then got his second of the game after he had been sent through by O’Shea before leaving the field for the last time 15 minutes from the end.
Richard O’Donnell made his first start for Chesterfield since November 10 in the absence of the injured Tommy Lee, who picked up an ankle knock earlier this week.
While Richard Brindley was also absent through injury. Drew Talbot shifted to right-back and Lester came in to partner Richards in attack as the Spireites lined-up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Lester came out to a standing ovation from all four sides of the Proact Stadium as the Kop sang his name.
With nothing but pride at stake the game was merely a formality.
Alan Gow almost spoiled the party with a powerful strike that sailed just wide of O’Donnell’s left hand post within the first five minutes.
Chesterfield’s first effort on goal came from Sam Togwell but the midfielder’s effort flew over the bar and the Karen Child Stand.
Lester was at the centre of most attacks and was unlucky not to get a free-kick after a trademark twist and turn on the edge of the box.
A minute’s applause echoed around the ground on 14 minutes as the scoreboard read ‘Thank You Jack’, with the striker typically showing his appreciation for the message.
Gow reminded everyone there was a game going on when he skipped past Neal Trotman into the box only for Talbot to sweep up the danger.
It proved vital as the Spireites took the lead midway through the first half.
Conor Townsend’s cross from the left was blocked and when the ball broke for O’Shea on the edge of the box, the Irishman showed skill to get passed a challenge before he unleashed a composed, unstoppable curling shot into the top corner of the net.
A similar chance presented itself to Lester moments later after the striker weaved his way past a couple of bodies but his effort was blocked.
Chesterfield looked threatening every time they came forward and Richards doubled the host’s advantage with a simple header from a Townsend free-kick.
Then came the moment every Blues fan had been waiting for - a Lester goal.
It came courtesy of the penalty spot, putting an end to the Spireites’ long wait without one, when he was tripped by Jordan Moore-Taylor.
Lester stepped up and confidently dinked the ball into the bottom corner of the net, sending Krysiak the wrong way, before celebrating in front of the Kop.
Exeter refused to lie down and had the ball in the back of the net when Gow’s free-kick was headed in by Scot Bennett, only for a linesman’s flag to cut the visitors’ celebrations short.
Gow tested O’Donnell from range before Bennett powered a header just wide of the Chesterfield keeper’s left hand post.
Richards and Lester combined early in the second half with the former Vale striker narrowly missing the target.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
O’Shea’s precise ball sent Lester through one-on-one and the striker, in this mood, was never going to miss as he calmly slotted the ball past Krysiak.
Lester could have had the ball in the back of the net when Mark Randall’s delicate chip released Tendayi Darikwa, who had strayed marginally offside before squaring the ball, only for the striker to miss his kick.
It was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Alex Henshall on 75 minutes to another rapturous applause from the Chesterfield faithful.
Liam Cooper saw a header drop the wrong side of the post before a good pass from substitute Danny Whitaker gave Darikwa a shooting chance he fired well over.
O’Donnell had to be on his toes at the other end to prevent Exeter’s Gow from close range. The Spireites stopper then denied Lawson D’Ath after the attacker had skipped past Cooper before reacting well again to stop Gow’s follow-up.
Gnanduillet fired over late on as Chesterfield finished the season with a win.
Chesterfield (4-4-2): O’Donnell; Talbot, Trotman, Cooper, Townsend; Darikwa, Randall, Togwell, O’Shea (Whitaker 64); Lester (c) (Henshall 75), Richards (Gnanduillet 70)
Subs not used: Barrington; Clay, Hird, Hazel
Exeter (4-3-3): Krysiak; Dawson, Coles (c), Moore-Taylor, Woodman (Anderson 62); Bennett, Rodgers (Gosling 67), Gow, Davies, D’Ath, Reid (Chamberlain 53)
Subs not used: Doherty, O’Flynn, Keohane, Evans