Spireites swept aside fellow strugglers Shrewsbury with a performance that was full of the confidence that was so lacking in the latter stages of 2015.
Danny Wilson was clear at his appointment that restoring confidence in the side was his top priority and he’s clearly achieved that as Jay O’Shea and the man who replaced him off the bench, Rai Simons, both bagged braces whilst Lee Novak scored the first league hat-trick of his career in a game full of milestones.
Not since December 1979 had Spireites reached seven when Reading were beaten by the same score, meaning this was the biggest win at the Proact Stadium and it emphatically ended a run of eight games without a league win
After an even start during which Shrewsbury’s Scott Vernon had made a hash of a decent chance, O’Shea fired in a crackerjack of a box-edge volley from Liam O’Neil’s cross to give Spireites the lead and he doubled it soon afterwards when Ian Black clipped Sam Morsy and referee Langford pointed to the spot. It was Spireites’ first penalty of the season and O’Shea made no mistake with a fierce drive.
In the first minute of added time, O’Neil fed Gboly Ariyibi and his pinpoint cross was expertly left-footed home by Novak from ten yards.
Shrews pulled one back through Zak Whitbread, his first goal for the club and first in over two years, His close range stab from a left wing corner came after three previous close range efforts had all been saved or blocked and for a few minutes the visitors threatened to cut the margin even more. The threat was extinguished 11 minutes later when Wilson took off O’Shea and, with his first involvement, Simons picked up a loose ball, made rapid ground and hammered in an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area.
Junior Brown then blocked Ariyibi in the box and picked up a second yellow.
It was Shrews’ fourth caution of the match and all were for fouls on the American U23 International. With O’Shea off the park, Novak took the penalty and scored to make it 5-1.
Down to ten men, Shrews surrendered and Simons struck another, assisted by Novak, who then completed his hat-trick after Simons returned the favour with a pass to put him clear on a day that started with keeper Tommy Lee being honored for making his 300th league appearance for the club.
Wilson was clearly delighted, saying: “I was very proud of the performance, even taking away the goals. The scoreline suggests that we were on top but we had to work very hard to get our noses in front in the early part of the game.”
The manager has indicated he’ll be looking to add a central defender to his squad ahead of the weekend trip to Rochdale.
Chesterfield: Lee, O’Neil, Hird, Raglan, Donohue, O’Shea (Simons 72), Morsy, Herd, Ariyibi (Gardner 84), Novak, Ebanks-Blake (Harrison 82). Subs (not used): Chapman, Maguire, Dieseruvwe, Onovwigun.
Goals: O’Shea 28, 40 (pen), Novak 45+1, 81 (pen), Simons 73
Shrewsbury: Halstead, Brown, Ogogo (Lawrence 29), Gerrard (Smith 29), Collins, Black, Cole, Grandison, Vernon (Knight-Percival 82), Whitbread, Whalley. Subs (not used): Burton, Barnett, Akpa Akpro, Clark.
Goal: Whitbread 66
Ref: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)
Booked: Herd, Morsy, O’Neil (Chesterfield), Black, Brown, Lawrence (Shrewsbury)
Sent-Off: Brown (Shrewsbury, second yellow)
Attendance: 6233 (414 from Shrewsbury).