Question: What happens when a team doesn’t win a ‘must win’ match?
Answer: Their supporters, albeit temporarily, become honorary Rotherham United supporters for 90 minutes tomorrow!
Sam Togwell’s equaliser three minutes into injury time for Spireites kept his side’s hopes of reaching the play-offs by the narrowest of threads. What’s needed next is for Paul Cook’s men to beat former manager John Sheridan’s Plymouth Argyle in tomorrow night’s Proact encounter.
Simultaneously, Bradford City, four points ahead of Chesterfield, host automatic hopefuls the Millers, a game all Blues connections will desperately want the home side to lose so a single point gap is the outcome with two games left.
Anything less and Spireites will have two meaningless games to see out a season of disappointment.
City’s top scorer Nahki Wells opened the scoring in a first half in which Chesterfield were the better side, they were unlucky to be behind at the break. After the restart, Bradford played the better football yet Chesterfield scored two goals to the Bantams one. Tendayi Darikwa levelled ahead of Ricky Ravenhill’s first goal of the season sparked great joy, mixed with a few ugly scenes, amongst the City faithful.
That goal looked to have won it for Bradford, but Togwell’s late show at least ensured tomorrow will see some fingernail biting during both team’s matches.
Right from the start, backed by two sets of well-voiced fans, around 2,500 of them from West Yorkshire, both teams went for the win.
On the exact anniversary of the 1997 FA Cup semi-final 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, another day of a last gasp equaliser, Paul Cook reintroduced last week’s missing pair of Armand Gnanduillet and Richard Brindley to the team.
City named the 11 that had won their last three games but Andrew Davies picked up a warm up injury meaning Michael Nelson had to be drafted in.
Chesterfield made the early running. Jay O’Shea shot just wide and Drew Talbot saw a header hacked off the line, though home keeper Tommy Lee had to work sharply soon after to nick the ball off giant striker James Hanson.
Wells hit high on the turn and Darikwa warmed the palms of John McLaughlin ahead of the City man hitting an effort on target to give his side the lead. James Meredith, a Spireites loanee right at the start of his career, threw in from the left touchline. Hanson leaped higher than Neal Trotman to flick the ball on and Wells received on his chest, he twisted and delivered a low shot beyond Lee’s left hand.
No more gilt-edged chances came before the break, which will have seen a disappointed home dressing room after a more than decent showing by Spireites.
City came out the second half the quicker. Liam Cooper had to make an outstanding challenge to deny Wells.
Spireites manager then decided it was worth risking Marc Richards, who picked up an ankle injury over Easter. O’Shea and Togwell pointed the way for the home side to get back into the game and with the tide turning in favour of the home side, a leveller came along.
Darikwa flicked a header wide to sub Richards who took the ball to the by-line. He crossed low and Darikwa, who’d darted to the edge of the six after his knock-on and he glided the ball home, side-footed, to give Chesterfield real hope.
City won a corner, they called for handball against Talbot, but they earned the reward they were seeking from the flag-kick. Lee punched clear but the ball fell to Ravenhill and he somehow found the target despite at least four blue shirts around the goal-line.
The goal led to wild celebrations, some of them unpleasant, and seemingly ended Chesterfield’s play-off challenge. However Togwell had other ideas when he hit home a last gasp six yarder after sub Alex Henshall’s right wing corner went through the crowded box to cue celebrations at the other end.
Lee had to protect the point with a sharp save at 22 goal Wells’ feet.
Coach Mark Crossley said: “It was a great game, a real cup tie atmosphere. Credit to both sets of players, it was a fantastic game and great to be involved in.”
But Togwell’s late goal means home supporters will have to endure 90 minutes as Millers tomorrow night!