It was a tale of two penalties at the B2net.
Shefki Kuqi hit the bar from the spot for Oldham but ex-Latic Danny Whitaker made no mistake to give his side a slender first leg lead in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Final.
Scott Boden put his side’s league woes behind them when he scored early in the second half ahead of Kuqi’s miss. Robbie Simpson levelled from range ahead of Whitaker’s goal in front of Chesterfield’s highest ever home crowd in this competition.
Spireites gave a start to new signing Josh Thompson, the Celtic loanee, who replaced the cup-tied Neal Trotman. Jimmy Juan, David Davis and James Hurst all made their home bows.
The evening started badly for Oldham. Skipper and defensive lynchpin Zander Diamond picked up a warm up injury and was stretchered off. James Tarkowski came in for his first start of the season with David Mellor taking over on the bench.
Tarkowski headed over from an early Simpson free-kick and Whitaker’s left footed drive went just wide as the game started at a pace. Tommy Lee punched away a Tom Adeyemi cross under pressure from Kuqi and Davis went close from distance as the atmosphere began to build.
Boden had a gilt-edged chance but headed wide from close range from a perfect Drew Talbot cross and Hurst forced a save following a run and long ranger as the home side built up a head of steam.
Simpson’s flicked header hit Thompson on the shin for the first of two back to back corners for Oldham as the game continued on an even keel. Thompson, who looks like a fine acquisition, had to scoop a Mvoto header away from another visiting corner as Paul Dickov’s side enjoyed a chunk of possession in what was becoming an enthralling tie.
Another good opening for the hosts came when Lester received from a Talbot header. The veteran squared for Boden, but he was unable to finish under pressure from Kieran Lee.
Thompson’s header from a corner was deflected inches wide, he had a shot blocked from the next flag-kick and the third on the trot ended with a Chesterfield push and the danger subsided ahead of the break.
Chris Taylor’s angled effort from distance in the opening seconds of the second half clipped a defender and Simpson’s corner flew through all as the pace immediately picked up with Oldham dictating initially.
However from the host’s first raid after the interval, they took the lead. Talbot put the advanced Hurst away and his pinpoint cross fell to the feet of an unmarked Boden who, this time, made no mistake. It marked the first time in the competition that Oldham had been behind.
Within five minutes Latics should have been level. Thompson hauled back Kuqi, a penalty was awarded. The Chesterfield man was booked as was Taylor for dissent, no doubt arguing a red may have been more appropriate. Kuqi took the penalty and hammered it against the bar.
Oldham didn’t have to wait much longer to level things up. Simpson hit a rocket from 30 yards that deceived Lee, who got a touch to it but wasn’t able to keep it out and that elusive clean sheet was again absent.
Taylor hit weakly at Lee and from the break Lester teased Tarkowski and earned a penalty. Whitaker, who missed from 12 yards against Exeter last time, but this time blasted it to put Spireites back in front.
Hurst had to block a Kuqi header on the line, sub Mat Smith headed over, Lee saved from Simpson and Jordan Bowery shot wide as the game continued to captivate the crowd right through to the final whistle.
The televised second leg is at Boundary Park on Monday January 30 and both sides will still feel they have a great chance of making it to Wembley.
CHESTERFIELD (4-4-2): Lee 6, Hurst 7, Thompson 7, Ford 6, Robertson 6, Talbot 7, Juan 6 (Allott 90), Davis 8, Whitaker 6 (Mendy 75), Lester 7, Boden 7 (Bowery 75). Not used: Fleming, Smith.
Goals: Boden 49, Whitaker (pen) 66
OLDHAM (4-4-1-1): Cisak 6, Parker 6, Mvoto 6, Tarkowski 7, Lee 6, Scapuzzi 6 (Morais 55,6), Wesolowski 7, Adeyemi 8, Taylor 7, Simpson 7, Kuqi 6 (Smith 75). Not used: Bouzanis, Mellor, Black.
Goal: Simpson 58
Referee: Philip Gibbs (West Midlands)
Bookings: Thompson, Davis, Lester (Chesterfield), Taylor (Oldham)