Gary Caldwell almost got the perfect start to his reign as Chesterfield boss, his side doing everything but find the net against Wimbledon.
The 0-0 draw made it four clean sheets on the trot at the Proact, but the Spireites’ performance was a far cry from the display in the goalless stalemate with MK Dons that began 2017.
Chesterfield were positive and bright, dominating possession for long spells and quick to get the ball wide to attack down the flanks.
The first half in particular was one way traffic and had a goal arrived, it would have been hard to see the visitors coming back.
Caldwell sprang a surprise with a 4-2-3-1 formation, putting Dan Gardner in a deep midfield role instead of his usual position much higher up the pitch.
It seemed to work, Gardner pulling the strings in an encouraging display, especially in the first 45 minutes.
Another big plus was the performance of winger Gboly Ariyibi, who turned 22 last week and looked a lot more like the player that brought so many scouts to the Proact early on in the season.
His work on the right brought the game’s first chance, a Dion Donohue shot that flew off target.
It was a pattern for the first half, Ariyibi and Rai Simons rampaging down the touchlines.
Chances came, but they also went.
Gardner swept a 20-yarder just past the post, Ariyibi had a shot deflected that didn’t creep in and Ched Evans hit the sidenetting before blasting wide.
The Dons had a sniff from a corner, Darius Charles skying from the penalty spot.
After the break Wimbledon dug in, putting everyone behind the ball to frustrate their hosts, for whom Jon Nolan stung the hands of keeper James Shea.
The best opportunity came when Ariyibi beat two men and played the ball across the goalline, sub Kristian Dennis getting a touch on it but not quite enough.
Chesterfield: Fulton 7, O’Neil 6, Donohue 7, Evatt 7, Hird 7, Ariyibi 7, Gardner 7, Nolan 7, O’Shea 6 (Mitchell 70), Simons 6 (Dennis 81), Evans 6. Not used: Allinson, Ebanks-Blake, Martinez, Beesley, Maguire.
AFC Wimbledon: Shea 7, Fuller 6, Kelly 6, Charles 6, Robertson 7, Whelpdale 6, Beere 6 (Bulman 82), Reeves 6, Egan 7 (Francombe 72), Barnett 6 (Oakley 72), Poleon 6. Not used: McDonnell, Kaja, Owens, Sibbick.