Match report: Cheltenham Town 0 Chesterfield 3

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Craig Davies was the star of the show as the league leaders comfortably brushed aside Cheltenham Town.

The former Welsh International scored twice, to take his seasonal tally to 20, and he teed up Kieran Djilali to bag his first goal in a year, the persistence of the striker being a vital element in all three goals.

Twenty-five-year-old Davies, out of contract in the summer, was quickest to react as Ashley Eastham, favourite to win the ball, slipped on the less than perfect pitch following a Danny Whitaker nod on. The striker gathered the ball a few yards inside the Robins’ half and bore down on goal, shooting home from just outside the box.

Just 90 seconds into the second half, Derbyshire-born Steve Elliott was set to deal with a Deane Smalley pass, tight on the touchline, but the bustling front man made his intentions unachievable. Davies gained control of the ball and delivered a slide-rule pass to the onrushing Djilali to first-time it home from the edge of the penalty area.

With Cheltenham out of the game, with just three minutes remaining, Davies was again second favourite for the ball. However, he bustled his way into possession on the left flank before cutting inside, entering the box and sliding home an angled shot to reach the mark coveted by all strikers. Never before has Davies got to 20 for a campaign.

He had one great opportunity for his hat-trick, in stoppage time, but he blazed wide from a gilt edged opening after sub Scott Boden had set him up.

Cheltenham gave a good account of themselves in the first half. The side that have never beaten the Spireites and never scored against them on their own ground saw top scorer Wes Thomas force a fine save from Tommy Lee’s legs as he headed goalwards from one of 13 corners in an up-tempo opening 45.

Jeff Goulding was unable to gather first time in a great position but he recovered well to cross for Jake Thomson, on his own and inside the six, but the man borrowed from Exeter fluffed his moment and failed to deliver a shot as the ball somehow got stuck under his foot.

Scott Brown had to make top-drawer tip-over saves to deny Derek Niven and Dean Morgan ahead of Davies’s opener. But following that goal, Chesterfield always looked in total control, though Thomas did graze the bar with a header moments before the third goal, as the Spireites picked up their third straight away win, all to clean sheets.

Davies said of his season’s work: “I’m just happy to get to 20 goals for the first time in my professional career. I’m more than pleased and I think everybody in the team’s happy for me as well.”

His manager, John Sheridan, was very pleased with his teams’s showing: “I thought we played really well, a very good performance by a team that looked as though they were at the top of the table. An excellent performance, a clean sheet and again we could have scored a few more goals.

“It was a tricky pitch but we played the pitch really well and did what we had to do. Craig was always a threat and he got his reward with his two goals against a team that’s not too bad, so to come away with a 3-0 win is very pleasing.”

Now a massive 13 points ahead of fourth-placed Rotherham United, the Spireites are looking to ram home that advantage even more against Northampton Town, without a win in eight at the B2net tomorrow. With new man Gary Johnson at the helm, they lost 3-2 at home to Shrewsbury in a game full of stunning goals.

Sheridan concluded: “We’ve got a tough game on Tuesday but we’ll enjoy this win, have a couple of days’ rest and look to win the next game and get as many points as quickly as possible. Shaun Harrad’s gone to Northampton and they’re a team who, on their day, can beat anyone.”