Niven sparks pitch party

Chesterfield 2, Bournemouth 1

Derek Niven hit a last-minute goal to earn Chesterfield victory in a highly-charged and emotional final match at Saltergate.

Niven found the net in the sixth minute of time added on with a powerful low shot from 25 yards which keeper Shwan Jalal found impossible to keep out as it went over the line at the foot of his right hand post.

The strike prompted a mass pitch invasion as fans cascaded on to the pitch to bid their a fond farewell to the old stadium.

Briefly, the game kicked off again but the final whistle led to masses of supporters flooding onto the playing surface to say their goodbyes.

Thousands swarmed on and there was good-natured applause for the Cherries fans before the Blues players appeared in the directors' box to loud cheers.

But the event was also tinged with great sadness as the match marked an end to the club's 139-year tenure at the ground.

Dilapidated and old fashioned it may have been, but to many followers, it was their football home and a much-loved venue.

Bournemouth had secured automatic promotion but despite the win, Chesterfield missed out on the play-offs.

But the day was as much about the occasion as the result, and Blues supporters gave the stadium a cracking send-off.

And the honour of scoring the final goal at the Recreation Ground could have not have fallen to a more appropriate man.

The longest-serving player on the club's books, Niven has demonstrated his resilience and commitment to the cause by battling back to full fitness after overcoming testicular cancer.

As the teams emerged from the dressing room before kick off, hundreds of balloons were released from the terraces to mark the end of an era.

Many supporters had attended a nostalgia-filled show at the Pomegranate Theatre and taken part in a colourful parade through the town before the game and the celebrations continued as the match got underway.

There were fears that Bournemouth had taken a bit of the shine off the event following a corner from Warren Cummins in the 42nd minute.

Drew Talbot was guarding the near post but his glancing header lifted it out of keeper Tommy Lee's grasp and the ball flew over the line at the far post.

Chesterfield upped their game in the second half and in response, the atmosphere began to crackle and reach fever pitch.

The visitors played their part and Lee did well to turn a shot from Danny Hollands on to the post but the volume was turned up to maximum with ten minutes remaining.

Striker Jack Lester had been his usual busy self and he demonstrated his class with an excellent right-footed finish from the edge of the area. It was his 12th of the season, and it left him as the team's leading scorer for the third year running.

In time added on Brett Pitman hit Lee's bar with a decent shot but it was Niven who struck in the decider which sparked the party on the pitch.

Chesterfield: Lee, Page, Austin, Breckin, Whing, Allott, Niven, Demontagnac, Conlon (Bowery 66), Lester, Talbot (Rundle 78). Substitutes: Crossley, Picken, Gray, Small, Boden.

Bournemouth: Jalal, Pearce, Bartley, Cummings (Garry 84), Cooper, Robinson, Feeney (McQuoid 70), Hollands, Pitman, Bradbury, Fletcher (Connell 75). Substitutes: Thomas, Igoe, Partington.

Referee: Mr G. Scott (Oxfordshire)

Attendance: 7,702 (686 from Bournemouth).

IT'S A GOAL: Blues skipper Ian Breckin celebrates after Jack Lester's equalising goal. SP78336.

Photographs by Marisa Cashill.

PENALTY APPEALS: Jack Lester appeals for a spot kick after Spireites Rob Page is bundled to the floor in the penalty area. SP78319.