Match Report: Chesterfield 2 Barnet 2
It was a clear case of two points dropped for the runaway leaders at Underhill.
The Spireites were cruising at 2-0 after goals from Deane Smalley and Craig Davies ahead of half-time Bees sub Sam Deering bagging two goals. Both strikes will be talked about for a long, long time, though keeper Tommy Lee may choose not to recall the equaliser that came in the fourth of seven added minutes.
The additional time was largely due to a touchline spat after Davies fouled Sam Cox. Ex-Blade Steve Kabba, involved in a tackle with the Chesterfield man on the opening day of the season that left him injured and the Spireites down to ten, ran 50 yards to confront Davies.
That led to Barnet’s entire bench as well as their on-field players surrounding the Spireite who remained remarkably calm under intense pressure.
Barnet, led by Martin ‘Mad Dog’ Allen for the first time, went into the evening game at the foot of the table due to Stockport’s earlier win. But, as was seen in the melee, they showed great spirit and determination right from the off, working incredibly hard in what was always a high-tempo, highly-charged encounter.
Indeed the odds were stacked in Chesterfield’s favour before a ball was kicked in anger. Home midfielder Anthony Pulis, son of the Stoke boss, was injured in the warm-up and had to be carried from the field on a stretcher. Cox was promoted from the bench to start.
The visitors took the lead midway through the first half. Smalley, tight on the left touchline, robbed Clovis Kamdjo and crossed for Davies. His shot was blocked but the ball returned to him and his second effort forced 6ft 6in debutant keeper Sam Walker to parry the ball at full stretch. Waiting in the wings for the rebound was the man who began the move and Smalley converted from close in to register his 10th goal of the season.
The impressive Mark Marshall almost got in to level after a rare Dean Holden error but the defender did just enough to knock him off his stride and Gregor Robertson cleared.
Soon afterwards Morgan should’ve scored. Lee’s downhill kick was flicked on by Davies and his colleague stroked the ball wide from a very good position.
Barnet’s Jude Stirling, another debut-maker, was flinging in huge throws from all angles as the hosts efforts to get level were time and again repelled but just 30 seconds after the re-start the destination of the points looked secure. Morgan’s cross teased Jordan Parkes who had two goes at clearing but only found Danny Whitaker. He slipped the ball short to Davies who lifted a lovely box-edge ball over defence and keeper to double the lead.
However the lead was soon halved. The diminutive Deering got the better of things as Mark Allott slid in to tackle and he hammered a peach from 25 yards that gave Lee no chance.
The hosts brought on a third forward, Jack Midson, as they went gung-ho. The Spireites introduced Jack Lester into the game for his 500th league appearance and he had a fine chance after Davies passed in but Walker won the duel.
Davies should’ve wrapped things up on 88 minutes after he took advantage of a defensive lapse to find himself one on one with Walker but the leading scorer shot wide when you’d have bet your house on a goal.
Lee had to tip over a belter from Charlie Stimson before the seven-minute board was raised to give Barnet some hope.
And that hope turned to joy when Deering, a foot outside the right-hand corner quadrant, crossed in. Lee seemed to think the ball was floating out so just left it only to see it nestle in at the far post to even things up
Boss John Sheridan said: “It was a hard game; they get the ball in quickly. Long throws are a threat but we had very good chances to finish the game off.”