A goal two minutes into stoppage time from Jordan Bowery, his first in the league, preserved Chesterfield’s unbeaten run against a spirited Bradford City side who’d lost their previous four games.
Nineteen-year-old Bowery pounced to convert from close in after Ian Breckin had headed on a cross to make it eight games without a loss for the league leaders.
The scorer said: “The first thing on my mind was to touch and shoot and that was it. The keeper was so close I had to mishit it to be able to do anything, so I got lucky really. I tried to hit it as clean as I could but it was a bad mishit and it went in.”
The Spireites, now seven points clear in League Two, had opened the scoring after just ten minutes. Craig Davies slipped the ball through to Jack Lester who teased his marker. His cross in took a nick off a defender and fell kindly for Danny Whitaker who hit his 12th goal of the season from ten yards.
Whitaker commented: “It was just a lucky little break, Jack’s gone in and the ball took a nick off the defender away from the full-back and I had a free shot and it went in.”
The lead was short-lived. Within two minutes James Hanson’s rising shot had forced Tommy Lee into a tip-over save and from the second phase of the resulting corner Gareth Evans crossed for Dave Syers to convert from close in at the far post.
That goal led to a period of possession domination by the visitors but Lee only had one more serious intervention to make before the break, palming away a fierce Evans box-edge free-kick.
City didn’t have to wait too long after the restart to take the lead. Evans again was the provider for James Hanson to head in from a couple of yards.
From then on, Chesterfield camped in the City half, odd counter-attack apart, but, despite their domination, clear openings were few.
Davies hit one just over from 20 yards and Mark Allott forced a decent save before sub Deane Smalley headed high from a great position following a Drew Talbot cross.
The destination of the points looked securely in Bradford’s favour when Bowery popped up in the right place.
John Sheridan, who made three changes from the side that won so well at Gillingham, lost ever-present Simon Ford plus Lester to minor injuries, making their places for the trip to rock-bottom Stockport County tomorrow look in doubt. Javan Vidal and Smalley, subs at the weekend, look set to step back into the starting line-up.
The manager said of his team’s efforts: “I’m pleased with our performance, even though we’ve only drawn the game. We started really well and got the lead and if we’d have kept that a little bit longer I think we’d have gone on and won the game comfortably.
“But Bradford got back in the game quickly and that gave them a bit of belief and they had one or two chances. They’re a big, strong team and I said they’d cause problems when they put balls in the box but in our second-half performance, I liked the character to try and get back in the game.
“I thought Mark Allott was outstanding and Danny Whitaker. They weren’t frightened to get on the ball. People in the stands got frustrated but I don’t think my players on the pitch got frustrated.
“They kept plugging away and showed a will to get back and get something out of the game and we got our rewards. I think we definitely deserved something out of the game.”
His opposite number, Peter Taylor, said: “I felt for my players at the end. Chesterfield are the league leaders because they’re the best team, so to nearly get an away win is a great performance.”
Seven games in a busy January have spawned four wins and three draws. Seven more in February, five of them away, and a similar return will all but secure a first promotion in ten years for Chesterfield.