Spireites lost at home for the ninth time this season, falling to a scrappy 55th minute goal from Posh debutant Tom Nichols.
The 21-year-old bundled in at the near post from Erhun Oztumer’s left-wing corner after Tommy Lee had failed to deal with the ball. Chesterfield’s keeper later tweeted: “Got to hold my hands up today, really poor goal to concede. Let the lads down at an important moment in the game. No excuses.”
The goal means that Nichols first goal for his two sides, he was signed from Exeter City, were both against Spireites.
Subsequent to the goal Graham Westley’s United lost two players to second yellow cards; right-back Michael Smith fouled Jay O’Shea right on the edge of the box just three minutes after the goal and he was joined by Ricardo Almeida-Santos with 12 minutes remaining, signalling a period of play almost exclusively in Peterborough’s defensive third.
Despite the numerical advantage and the increasing level of pressure, Danny Wilson’s side were unable to find a way through the visitor’s well-drilled defence and when they did, villain of the peace Ben Alnwick was there to save.
Peterborough’s keeper went unpunished by the referee for leading his side’s blatant time-wasting tactics, though Mr Coote did add seven extra minutes which momentarily lifted the home crowd, but Spireites couldn’t find a way through.
Throughout the afternoon the weather made any decent football all but impossible and without doubt, the swirling wind contributed to the game’s only goal and it also led to a near miss just before the end when Alnwick booted the ball from his area, it took a high bounce right on the edge of Lee’s area and Chesterfield’s keeper had to rapidly back-track to make a superb tip-over save.
Lee, who saw a first half striker from Oztumer hit the bar for Lee Angol to convert the rebound, but from an offside position, may have made the best save of the game plus the crucial error, but throughout the game, Alnwick was by far the busier of the two.
The Posh last-man, from an early double save to deny Lee Novak and O’Shea, to an injury time effort from Chris Herd, was continuously busy and could well have been busier but for endless blocks made by the varying personnel in front of him.
Whilst credit has to go to the visitors resolute defending, questions have to be asked about Chesterfield’s dominance and high shot count that failed to bring any reward.
Wilson, who gave debuts to new signings Tom Anderson and Gary Liddle, who also was given the captain’s armband, said of the contest: “Those (high shots and corner count) are statistics that you get worried about; we’ve had a lot of chances, the lions’ share of the play and have nothing to show for it. The instinct in front of goal or the final pass has been missing today, we can’t take away the performance level with us, we’ve got to put an end product to it.”
Another tough challenge next-up for Spireites, a Friday night visit to leaders Burton Albion.
Chesterfield: Lee 5, O’Neil 8, Anderson 6, Hird 7, Donohue 6, Talbot 5 (Ariyibi 70), Herd 7, Liddle 7, O’Shea 6 (Gardner 79), Novak 6, Ebanks-Blake 5 (Simons HT, 6). Subs: Chapman, Maguire, Banks, Dimaio.
Peterborough: Alnwick 7, Smith 5, Almeida-Santos 6, Bostwick 6, Toffolo 5, Forrester 6, Oztumer 7 (Beautyman 60, 6), Angol 6 (Samuelsen 60, 6), Taylor 6, Nichols 6 (Zakuani 79), Coulthirst 8. Subs: Henry, Fox, Nabi, Coulibaly.
Goal: Nichols 55
Ref: David Coote (Notts)
Bookings: Herd, O’Neil (Chesterfield), Smith, Forrester, Almeida-Santos, Toffolo (Peterborough)
Sent-Off: Smith 58 mins, Almeid-Santos 78 mins (Two yellows).
Attendance: 6,544 (707 from Peterborough).