Cook blooms at potential of new signing Gardner

DAN GARDNER. 'Pic by Gordon Clayton.
DAN GARDNER. 'Pic by Gordon Clayton.
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“He’s a very exciting young prospect,” is Chesterfield manager Paul Cook’s assessment of new recruit Dan Gardner.

Gardner, aged 23, signed an 18-month contract at the Proact Stadium after the Spireites paid an undisclosed fee to secure his services from FC Halifax Town.

The forward, who spent a year at Celtic before spells at Crewe Alexandra and Droylsden, scored seven goals this season for the Conference Premier side.

Cook said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have signed Dan because he’s a very exciting young prospect. We have watched him for some time and he’s progressed really well at Halifax.”

Marc Richards is Chesterfield’s top scorer with seven this season in League Two. Tendayi Darikwa, Gary Roberts and Eoin Doyle all have three to their name.

Roberts, who hasn’t played since the 3-1 home defeat to Southend United in the FA Cup on December 7, is the club’s chief creator with five assists. Ritchie Humphreys and Armand Gnanduillet have each set up three a piece.

The addition of Gardner gives Cook another option in attack as his side set their sights on claiming a top-three spot in a fiercely competitive promotion race. “He’s a player who can make things happen in the last third of the pitch,” added Cook. “We feel that we have got a very good squad and the signing of Dan makes it even stronger.”

His arrival opened the door for fellow Chesterfield striker Jacob Hazel to join Buxton on loan.

Hazel, 19, had a successful spell at Norwegian side SK Sprint-Jeløy and will be hoping to continue his goal-scoring exploits at the Evo-Stik Northern Premier club.

Gardner was Cook’s second signing in as many days since the January transfer window opened. Goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin was brought in on a month’s loan from Accrington Stanley to provide cover for Tommy Lee.

There has been plenty of action off the pitch, but very little on it over the past week as Chesterfield’s trip to Cheltenham Town was called off on Saturday morning due to a waterlogged pitch.

The Spireites were eager to reclaim top spot in League Two after their New Year’s Day game at Northampton Town fell victim to the weather and Scunthorpe United took full advantage to race three points clear.

But an early pitch inspection at Whaddon Road deemed the game was unplayable after match officials took in to consideration the current state of the playing surface and rain forecast throughout the day.

A re-arranged date is yet to be decided but Chesterfield will be mindful the impact two postponements will have on their fixture schedule over the coming months, which could also accommodate a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final date at Wembley should Cook’s side overcome Fleetwood Town over two legs in February.