Spireites earned an away point after taking the lead in their first ever visit to the Broadfield Stadium.
The end result will have come as no surprise, it was Crawley Town’s fifth consecutive league draw, their point being earned through a 70th minute equaliser from striker Gavin Tomlin, his first goal of the season, scored 11 minutes after Gary Roberts’ goal for Paul Cook’s side.
The game ended with both sides losing men to red cards after ex-Owl Dan Jones fouled former Blade Izale McLeod. The pair ended up in a heap and it looked like half baked punches were exchanged. Luton based ref Graham Horwood consulted his assistants and fourth official before condemning the players to three match bans.
The incident occurred right in front of the technical areas and manager Cook said: “It just looked as though they were rolling around on the floor to me.
“I’m not criticising referees, they have the whistle, they’re in charge but right from the first minute the fourth official was almost commentating on the game, giving information for yellow cards.
“Referees make mistakes, they even themselves out over a season, but it was the fourth official who got the lads sent off, it should be the referee that makes the decision.”
Chesterfield started the game camped in the Red Devils’ half without over threatening Lewis Price’s goal but it was John Gregory’s side that almost drew first blood, twice.
Jimmy Smith received from Lanre Oyebanjo down the right and he unleashed a decent rising shot from the right side of the box which hammered against the post. Soon afterwards Gwion Edwards’ cross from the left found left-back Ryan Dickson in an unexpected six yard box position.
But the defender’s header was not of text book quality, but his shouldered effort beat Tommy Lee and struck the post in just about the same position as Smith’s effort.
Spireites’ best first half opening came after a flowing move that ended when Dean Leacock blocked Jay O’Shea’s shot on the line and the same defender blocked a Roberts shot after a well worked free-kick from the visitors.
Oyebanjo demonstrated the art of tacking with a fine intervention to deny the lively Sam Clucas just as the former Mansfield Town man pulled the trigger.
Crawley’s energy took a step upwards after the break and they appeared to be a reinvigorated side. Lee saved a low Edwards shot and Joe Walsh headed just over from a corner but Spireites gradually began to regain some level of control and they took the lead.
The effervescent Jimmy Ryan robbed Keith Keane in the centre circle to halt a Crawley attack and he immediately spotted Roberts down the left and fed him the perfect pass.
With Eoin Doyle, Clucas and sub Armand Gnanduillet all to his right in an attack that saw Chesterfield have a numerical advantage, Roberts went for glory himself. He shot from just outside the left corner of the box and his effort earned the glory, beating Price and nestling in at the far post.
Roberts immediately whipped his shirt off to reveal a T-Shirt saying RIP Ray; the player later revealed that 24 hours before the match he’d been a pallbearer at his Uncle Ray’s funeral.
“I knew I’d score today, it was for Ray,” he emotionally revealed. The yellow card he received just seemed harsh. Roberts later saw Price pull off the save of the game to tip over an outside of the left boot crackerjack.
The lead was short lived. Edwards, tricky throughout, drew the attention of three Spireites as he strode forwards.
Charlie Raglan was in the middle of the trio who all bore down on the Welshman, but he slipped as a pass was delivered whilst the presence of two teammates in the same vicinity left Tomlin on his own. The striker, one on one with Lee, calmly slotted the ball home to break his Crawley duck.
Tomlin had seemed totally devoid of confidence. At nil-nil he received the ball on the edge of the six, unmarked, but he messed around for so long, he didn’t even manage to deliver a shot. At that point you’d have thought he would have been subbed with new signing Shaun Murphy, once of Bramall Lane, on the bench. That switch did eventually take place, but after Tomlin had rescued a point.
Spireites lost Ian Evatt to a nasty cut under his right eye and as he sloped off, he looked groggy, so Cook will be hoping he wasn’t suffering from concussion which could exclude him from next weekend’s FA Cup trip to six-shooters MK Dons.
With both sides seemingly happy with a point, the fracas spoiled the party, Jones’s driving runs and accurate crossing will be sorely missed until Boxing Day.
Crawley: Price 7, Oyebanjo 7, Dickson 7, Leacock 7, Walsh 7, Bawling 5 (Young 65, 7), Keane 5, Smith 6, Edwards 8, Tomlin 6 (Miller 84), McLeod 5. Subs: Jensen, Henderson, Bradley, Banya, Elliott.
Goal: Tomlin 70
Chesterfield: Lee 6, Darikwa 7, Raglan 7, Evatt 6 (Margreitter 56, 6), Jones 7, Ryan 8, Morsy 7, Clucas 7 (Humphreys 77), Roberts 8, O’Shea 6 (Gnanduillet 56), Doyle 6. Subs: Wright, Gardner, Boco, Ariyibi.
Goal: Roberts 59
Ref: Graham Horwood (Luton)
Booked: Darikwa, Roberts (Chesterfield), Smith (Crawley)
Sent-Off: Jones (Chesterfield), McLeod (Crawley)
Attendance: 2459 (403 from Chesterfield)