MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 2 Rochdale 1

Winner: Danny Whitaker strikes for Chesterfield.    Picture: dean atkins
Winner: Danny Whitaker strikes for Chesterfield. Picture: dean atkins
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The dictionary says a miracle is ‘a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment’.

The Spireites are two games away from possibly achieving one after winning the ‘loser goes down’ match against Rochdale.

A goal adrift with less than 10 minutes to go and playing well below par against a Rochdale side also in the need of divine intervention, not for the first time this season John Sheridan’s side was dead and buried.

Then up popped a couple of super-subs to keep Chesterfield’s gossamer-thin survival hopes alive.

Scott Boden got the faintest of touches to a Jordan Bowery nod-down from another sub Gregor Robertson’s ball in. Five minutes later and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s 72nd-minute goal for Rochdale became a faint memory.

Franck Moussa, a superb addition to the squad when borrowed from Leicester City just over a month ago, was 25 yards out in some space. The Belgian saw an opportunity and hammered a shot that rattled the bar. Danny Whitaker, scorer of the equaliser off the bench at Hartlepool a week earlier, chested the ball down before slotting home an unlikely winner to confirm Dale’s demise.

The win marked a third straight victory for the side that looked doomed after losing leads and games to fellow strugglers Scunthorpe United and Walsall. But since then, nine points from three games, coupled with Walsall and Leyton Orient’s joint efforts of picking up just a single point between them in the same time, means that the B2net side carry their hopes forward for another week.

The Spireites now need to overhaul two teams from Walsall, losers of their last three games, Orient and Wycombe by winning at Yeovil Town and at home to Brentford whilst hoping the others continue to falter.

Last week, the Spireites were poor but, for the first time this season came from behind to win maximum points, at Hartlepool. Run the tape again and they matched that against Dale despite being even poorer.

Akpa Akpro made 30 yards of ground for Dale after picking up a Joe Thompson head-on to slot the ball home from the box-edge.

It all looked done and dusted at that point and moments later, when Nicky Adams found himself in a gilt-edged position, with the fat lady gargling, Tommy Lee pulled off a stunning save to keep the season alive.

Then came the two subs.

Spireites assistant boss Tommy Wright said: “The three points were crucial but Rochdale were the better team. The players showed a bit of grit and determination and the manager made a couple of good substitutions.”

Chesterfield (4-1-4-1): Lee 7, Talbot 7, Thompson 8, Ford 6 (Robertson 33 , 7), Ridehalgh 6, Juan 5, Westcarr 5 (Whitaker 59, 7), Moussa 7, Randall 5 (Boden 66 , 6), Bowery 6. Subs (not used): Allott, Smith.

Rochdale (4-3-3): Edwards 6, Darby 6, Amankwaah 6, Long 7, Widdowson 8, Tutte 7, Jones 7, Kennedy 7, Thompson 7 (Grimes 89), McConville 6 (Adams 61, 7), Akpa Akpro 7. Subs (not used): Lucas, Minihan, Holden.

Goals: Akpa Akpro 72 (Dale); Boden 81, Whitaker 86 (Spireites).

Ref: Craig Pawson (S Yorks)

Bookings: Randall, Bowery (Chesterfield); Widdowson (Rochdale)

Attendance: 5954