Chesterfield 3 City 0

They were defiant to the last; refusing to accept the inevitable.

"City til I die" came the cry as the teams played out the last rites before their League One status became history.

Despite the futility of the situation, the Bantam voices cried out louder than ever with a passion play that should shame the players to their boots.

Forget the match video of this horror show. Someone should sit the team down and make them listen to the final 15 minutes and hear the level of away support.

Who knows, it might even prick a few consciences.

But, of course, it's far too late now to make any difference. A final-day win over Millwall is the least the fans should expect but that will still be no cure for the bitter pill of relegation.

For the third time in seven seasons, City are going down. But the regularity of relegation since the heady days of the Premiership does not dull the pain.

It will really hit home when the new fixtures are published next month. Instead of mouth-watering derbies with Leeds and Huddersfield, it will be long-forgotten names like Hereford, Mansfield and Rochdale on the agenda.

I suppose we should be thankful in a small way that City spared us the nail-biting tension that Saltergate could have provided. With such high stakes, we were all expecting a draining afternoon of drama and gut-wrenching fear.

Instead Chesterfield enjoyed a walk in the park against a side who put in as spineless a performance as we've seen all season. This was Galpharm-esque in its goryness.

It was also an insult to those 1,600 supporters who had travelled down the M1 in the hope of a miracle. Or at least in the hope of a damn good try. They got neither.

City caved in after 15 minutes. Steve Schumacher sprayed a woeful pass into touch when trying to pick out Spencer Weir-Daley's break and from the throw-in, Jamie Ward found the room to shoot towards the near post.

It looked a gentle tester for Donovan Ricketts to warm his hands but somehow the Jamaican allowed the ball to slither through his grasp and his body and burrow itself into the bottom corner of the net.

The goal was an absolute shocker and effectively sealed City's fate. Their resistance, if you can call it that, was paper-thin from that point.

Weir-Daley threatened to get behind the home defence but keeper Barry Roche saw the danger coming and whipped the ball off his toes. And then Chesterfield doubled their lead with the game not even half an hour old.

Derek Niven was given all the time in the world to line up a shot which cannoned back off the post, Ricketts did well to foil Wayne Allison's follow-up but the rebound broke kindly for Ward, who ignored the flailing limbs on the City goalline to hammer his second.

The fans behind that goal could not believe what they were seeing. Was this how it was all going to end?

Billy Paynter fell over his feet in front of goal before Eddie Johnson, once again showing the heart that was so lacking elsewhere, conjured up City's only genuine threat with a curling free-kick that Roche touched on to the bar.

David Wetherall headed over in stoppage time but that was not enough to spare his side from the justified grilling they got from the away terrace as the whistle sounded.

"You're not fit to wear the shirts" - a vicious chant not heard since Huddersfield away - summed up exactly what their short-changed supporters were feeling.

The mood had returned to the positive for the second half. They were giving City one last chance to redeem themselves.

And it looked marginally brighter as Omar Daley, a peripheral performer otherwise, clipped the outside of the post from a short corner.

But City were soon penned back in their own half as Chesterfield, who had failed to win a corner in the first half, forced five in the ten minutes after the restart.

The volume dipped as news filtered through from Millmoor that Cheltenham were now in front, which meant a Spireites win would mean nothing. Both sides were going down.

Chesterfield could have been excused for going through the motions but there was no dip in their endeavour. City take note.

And the third goal just summed up the gulf in determination and will-to-win between the two sides.

City were on the attack and had plenty of men forward when one more stray pass saw the move break down. Ward was only ten yards outside his penalty area when he picked up possession but suddenly the pitch opened up before him.

Johnson tried to track his run but couldn't keep up and Wetherall was nutmegged and left for dead as Ward breezed down the left wing.

The young striker's only option out wide was to drill in a low cross and hope that Allison's veteran legs would have enough in them to get on the end of it. Instead it was Mark Bower trying to cut the ball out but only able to divert it into his own goal. It was a farcical full stop on City's tale of woe.

Whatever they felt about the players and the so-called performance, the supporters ensured nobody could point the finger at the efforts off the pitch.

So smiles and songs rather than frowns and tears greeted referee Colin Boyeson's whistle that signalled the inevitable.

The likes of Dagenham & Redbridge and Accrington Stanley will no doubt be rubbing their hands together at the prospect of adding Valley Parade to their fixture-list. For that, City should hang their heads in shame.

Relegation was sealed over a season not an afternoon but at least Chesterfield bowed out knowing they could not have done any more on Saturday; the same could not be said for the opposition.

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