It’s not that often that Chesterfield look forward to the FA Cup Third Round Draw!
Only once in 34 years have they won a second round tie, and in that 1996-97 season, John Duncan’s men made the semi-final.
Chesterfield did play in the glamour round in 2007 but only after Droylsden were booted out after winning 2-1 for fielding an ineligible player in the controversial twice abandoned and then replayed tie.
Spireites pulled off a coupon busting win thanks to Armand Gnaduillet’s 52nd minute header from Sam Clucas’s delicious delivery.
The former Mansfield man, filling in at left-back due to Dan Jones’ suspension, saw Sam Morsy deliver a long diagonal ball that was partially headed away but Gary Roberts received.
He cleverly back heeled to Clucas who controlled and crossed for the big Frenchman to get between centre halves Kyle McFadzean and Antony Kay and nod downwards from the edge of the six.
It marked Gnanduillet’s first goal for Chesterfield since January and it came after a fine first half for his team but a disappointing one for him personally.
Paul Cook brought Gnanduillet and Georg Margreitter in for Jones and Ian Evatt, who picked up a nasty facial injury in the 1-1 draw at Crawley Town, switching to 4-4-2 along the way.
The manager’s game plan was to press hard and press high with Gnanduillet’s role to rough up the central defenders whilst the entire team was given the task of preventing League One’s top scorers getting into their stride.
The plan worked a treat, but Gnanduillet headed wide from a good position and failed to get any shot in at all when put right through but he dallied too long and all he earned was a corner. His goal consigned any negative thoughts on his opening 45 to the irrelevant file.
Pre-break, despite being second best, Karl Robinson’s side had a couple of more than decent chances. Benik Afobe, the match winner in the early season league encounter between these sides at the Proact, found himself in a one on one position with Tommy Lee.
Spireites’ keeper rushed out and pawed away the ball from the striker’s feet. The loose ball ran to Delle Alli, a man destined for greatness, but with Lee still prone, he shot wide from the box-edge when he should have done much better.
Darren Potter saw Lee save, diving to his left, with what was the host’s only shot on target all afternoon, whilst one of the men responsible for that stat, Margreitter, made a top tackle to rob Alli in the box, a brave sliding challenge as the Austrian had already been booked.
The effervescent Ryan fed Tendayi Darikwa just before the break but the full-back lifted his six yard effort over the bar, meaning the break was entered with Chesterfield level despite a half almost entirely camped in opposition territory.
Spireites’ pressing forced home efforts throughout, making the back four and midfield of Dons’ nervy and those nerves were clear to see when Chesterfield scored, one of the scorer’s markers, ex-Blade McFadzean, had a personal nightmare. His passing was atrocious, primarily down to him and his mates being given no time on the ball at any time.
Eoin Doyle, on 19 for the season, had an effort chalked off by a linesman’s flag and he saw Kay make a terrific goal line block from an opening that should have seen goal 20, whilst Clucas forced a great save from David Martin as the second half was a little more even, but in truth the lead never looked like being surrendered.
Only when subs George Baldock and Giorgio Rasulo came on did Chesterfield look occasionally edgy, but in the main they were better in every department during every phase of the game.
Cook said: “MK Dons are a fantastic side, with excellent players who handle the ball well, but we wanted to put them under pressure high up the pitch and make sure if they were going to beat us, they had to earn the right to beat us.
“I thought from the first minute to the last our lads were magnificent. I felt we were in the ascendency for the majority of the game and I felt we deserved our victory.”
He wants Liverpool at home in tonight’s draw.
A rare trip to this stage, with £45,000 already earned in prize money, either a winnable home tie or a glamour away one seem to be the favourite two options from fans and players alike.