Chesterfield: credit where credit’s Drew!

Tendayi Darikwa controls the ball by Tina Jenner Burton Albion v Chesterfield
Tendayi Darikwa controls the ball by Tina Jenner Burton Albion v Chesterfield
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A 52nd-minute Goal-of-the-Season contender won this contest for the impressive Spireites.

Drew Talbot received a short pass from Mark Randall as he patrolled the left flank. The ex-Owls raider cut inside as marker Alex MacDonald stood off.

With no challenge forthcoming, the 26-year-old got sight of goal and unleashed a rising shot from 30 yards into the top left-hand corner of Stuart Tomlinson’s goal.

No keeper in League Two would have saved it.

The cracker was only his second of the season and 19th for the club, but it was his fourth against the Brewers. Back in 2009-10 one of those, also at the Pirelli Stadium, was voted the club’s Goal of the Season. Lightening may well strike for a second time!

Chesterfield’s fifth clean sheet in seven matches keeps their slim play-off hopes alive, but they need to keep up the form showed on Saturday in Staffordshire for this afternoon’s game at home to second-placed Port Vale.

Micky Adams’ Valiants have won their last two games after a lean spell while former Miller Tom Pope ended his extremely lean spell in front of goal with a Good Friday hat-trick in the 3-2 win against fellow top-three hopefuls Cheltenham Town. Co-striker Lee Hughes limped off in that match with what Paul Cook, who was at Vale Park, described as something that “looked like a hamstring injury, he’s doubtful for Monday”.

Cook reported no doubts for today among his own squad after their first-class showing against a side that was seeking its 10th consecutive home win. Maverick striker Armand Gnanduillet, the manager’s main worry ahead of the trip down the A38, came on for a few minutes near the end. He looked as sharp as could be expected after his ongoing niggling injury situation that continually restricts his training regime and frustrates his boss.

But the Spireites go into the must-win game, certain to be watched by a big crowd, full of confidence following the second best away showing of the season - the 2-0 win at Vale in December still sits at the top of the pile.

Right from the kick-off, Chesterfield looked the sharper of the two sides. While some of their passing may have been a little off key, their determination more than made up for it and very quickly they seized the midfield initiative.

With Randall recalled in place of skipper Sam Hird, who was on the bench, and Sam Togwell alongside him in the engine room, the centre of the pitch was claimed as blue early on and it remained under the control of the visitors throughout. Randall fared well, Togwell was magnificent.

Behind them central defenders Neal Trotman and armband-wearer Liam Cooper, with teenage full-backs Richard Brindley and Conor Townsend, were so effective that Tommy Lee, in his 200th Spireites appearance, was virtually redundant against the side that has scored more times at home than any other in the division.

Townsend’s free-kick and a Marc Richards header that was easily saved by Tomlinson were the visitors’ best first-half efforts but the 45 ended in some controversy. Richards was put through on goal and got beyond Ian Sharps but the on-loan Rotherham player grabbed the striker, pulling him down, escaping with just a yellow card. Cook simply said after the match that “the referee got it wrong”.

Talbot’s cannonball had the large away following forget about the lack of a red card and from then on Albion, though stepped up the pace from time to time, never looked like penetrating what has become a very reliable rearguard.

Richards and his replacement, Gnanduillet, came closest to adding to the scoreline in what can be looked on as an ideal away performance. Plenty of work ethic, a rock-solid defence, some degree of attacking prowess but, most of all, a clear spirit in the camp that has, against all odds, kept Chesterfield in with the faintest chance of a top-seven spot.

Cook reflected: “Make no bones about it, they’ve scored a lot of goals at home and beat a lot of teams this season. We’ve limited them to very few chances that I can remember and I thought at times we dominated.

“To limit teams like Burton to chances like that, you have got to work hard and we had some good performances today.”

Looking forward, he added: “Port Vale are a really exciting side, they’ve got energy throughout the team, Micky Adams has done a great job. It looks like they’ll go up this year. They’ll bring a massive following, we’ll get a bumper crowd. But at this stage of the season, for a club like ours, having nothing to play for is not right.”

Vale have won on only one of their last 10 visits to Chesterfield, a 5-0 drubbing in 2010 the home side’s’loss in that run.

The visitors’ tormentor that day? Marc Richards, who scored a fantastic hat-trick. What price the same again, in blue this time?