It would not have been the score Chesterfield wanted but the result was exactly what they had wished for - confirmation of a play-off place in League One.
A goal in each half from Kieran Agard and then former Alfreton Town man Aden Flint gave Bristol City a win at the Proact against a Spireites side who were given a standing ovation on and off the pitch.
Few teams have dictated play as much as Bristol City did on the day but the hard work had been done over the course of the season, coupled with a 3-2 defeat for closest challengers Rochdale at home to MK Dons.
It means Chesterfield can not be caught on 68 points, with Rochdale on 63 and only a game to play, ahead of the last game of the season against rivals Sheffield United with local bragging rights on the line.
Speculation over the future of in-demand Spireites boss Paul Cook, with Portsmouth having an official approach turned down by Chesterfield on Thursday, was on hold for 90 minutes at least for the last home game of the regular 2014/15 season.
Cook made just one change from last Saturday’s goalless draw at Oldham that put Chesterfield to within touching distance of securing a play-off spot. Sam Hird, who missed that game with a thigh strain, replaced Charlie Raglan at the heart of the Spireites’ defence.
Bristol City, who clinched the title last Saturday with a goalless draw of their own at home to Coventry City, made one change with Aaron Wilbraham out with a foot injury. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, the former Arsenal youngster, joined Agard in attack.
Chesterfield were greeted by a wave of noise from three sides of the stadium and gave a guard of honour for the league champions before there was a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for the 30th anniversary of the tragic Bradford City fire at where 56 people lost their lives.
Rochdale were the only team able to scupper the Spireites’ chances of a top six place, at home to promotion-chasing MK Dons, but cheers broke out among Blues fans when Karl Robinson’s side went not one but two up inside 30 minutes at Spotland.
Chesterfield were given first sight of goal when Marlon Pack gave the ball straight to Jay O’Shea on the edge of the penalty area, he turned and played in the charging Jimmy Ryan whose driven effort was saved by the feet of Bristol keeper Frankie Fielding.
His opposite number, Tommy Lee, was called in to action moments later at the other end when Joe Bryan’s powerful left-footed shot threatened to squirm underneath him. Lee got his hand down in time and the danger was cleared.
And, from the resulting corner, Agard tried an acrobatic overhead kick that went harmlessly wide of the post.
Dan Gardner shot high and wide as the Spireites tried to grab hold of a game that the visitors were dictating.
And Bristol City probably got the rewards their efforts deserved when Agard skipped away from Hird just inside the area and slotted a left-footed shot under Lee on 31 minutes.
He played in Emmanual-Thomas minutes later but he sliced wide. And Emmanual-Thomas returned the favour just before the break but Agard, under pressure from the recovering Tendayi Darikwa, shot straight at Lee, who grasped at the second attempt.
Ollie Banks came on for Gardner in the early exchanges of the second half as the home side tried to find a foothold in the game. Roberts clipped an inch-perfect ball through to the onrushing Sam Clucas, who controlled the ball mid-air but was forced wide and Fielding made the stop.
And, just as it looked Chesterfield were building up a head of steam, Bristol struck.
Ian Evatt and Darikwa had halted the attack at the expense of a corner and, when Pack angled his flag kick to the back stick, Flint rose above all else to power a header in to the bottom corner and set the Bristol fans off again of “That’s why we’re champions.”
Scores elsewhere kept the Spireites close to their phones as Leyton Orient went ahead against Sheffield United and Rochdale pulled a goal back against MK Dons.
And it was another substitution from the hosts that almost brought them a goal when Gboly Ariyibi replaced Ryan. A well-worked free-kick between Jay O’Shea and Roberts saw the latter smash an effort against the frame of the goal, with Fielding well beaten.
But that was as good as it got for Chesterfield who now look ahead to a clash with Sheffield United, who drew 1-1 at Orient, at Bramall Lane before the play-offs.
Spireites (4-2-3-1): Lee; Darikwa, Evatt, Hird, Jones; Morsy (c), Ryan (Ariyibi 70); Gardner (Banks 52), O’Shea (Harrison 87), Roberts; Clucas. Subs not used: Carter, Raglan, Humphreys, Gnanduillet.
Bristol (3-5-2): Fielding; Ayling, Flint, Williams; Tavernier, K. Smith (c), Pack, Freeman (Wagstaff 84), Bryan (Cunningham 73); Emmanuel-Thomas (Elliott 87), Agard. Subs not used: Osborne, Richards.
Booking: Roberts 85 (Spireites); None (Bristol).
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside).
Attendance: 9,615 (1,602).