Match report: Chesterfield 2 Southend United 1

Armand Gnanduillet celebrates his last-gasp winner.
Armand Gnanduillet celebrates his last-gasp winner.
Have your say

Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

And, if you’re in the kind of form Gary Roberts is in at present, those moments are cometh along more often than not.

The flying forward has emerged as a key component of the Chesterfield machine which maintained its unbeaten start to the season with defeat of in-form Southend.

Roberts, a summer signing following his release from Swindon Town, had not trained all week due to a persistent heel problem but was passed fit to play a starring role for the Spireites.

He broke the deadlock on the hour with a curling, dipping free-kick that took a slight deflection off the wall on its way into the top left corner of the net.

It was the first time Shrimpers keeper Dan Bentley had been beaten this season and Roberts’ set piece ability was instrumental once more for the winning goal.

His inviting in-swinging corner, deep into injury time, deceived the visiting defence, but not Armand Gnanduillet, who rose unchallenged to power a header home from close range.

The Ivorian under-21 international was introduced as a second half substitute as Chesterfield pushed two up front after Freddy Eastwood had levelled the scores for Southend.

The switch had the desired effect and sent the home faithful into ecstasy in the fifth minute of injury time which put an end to Southend’s 100 per cent record.

Phil Brown’s well-oiled Shrimpers were the Spireites’ toughest test to date and, even at this early stage in the season, you wonder how significant that late goal may prove to be.

Chesterfield made just one change to the side that battled their way to a 2-2 draw at Rochdale last weekend, with Liam Cooper brought for his first start of the season.

Marc Richards had an early sight of goal when he latched on to a ball down the inside left channel from Roberts. The lone front man beat the defenders for pace, side-stepped Bentley but scuffed his effort wide of the mark from a difficult angle.

Bentley had to be on his toes to acrobatically turn over Jay O’Shea’s long range effort, which looked destined for the top corner of the net.

The Shrimpers responded with their best opportunity of the first period when Eastwood was sent clear but he opted to cut inside on to his favoured right foot rather than strike at goal and Cooper recovered to dispossess the striker at full stretch.

As both teams sized each other out in the early exchanges of the second half, the crowd did their best to get Chesterfield up for the battle.

And it seemed to work as the Spireites soon went ahead through the man of the moment, Roberts.

The influential forward was sent crashing to the turf when he was clattered by Clifford’s mistimed slide tackle 25 yards from goal. Roberts dusted himself down, composed himself and wrapped his left foot around the ball for the game’s opening goal.

But Southend were back in the game almost immediately when substitute Kevan Hurst flicked a long ball into the path of Eastwood who drilled a left-footed shot into the bottom corner. Lee got a hand to the ball but couldn’t prevent it from finding the net.

The visitors had a shout for a penalty moments later when Straker got the wrong side of Hird only to go to ground with the goal in front of him. The referee waved away their claims.

Roberts tested Bentley again with a free-kick, Prosser was twice denied from close range in injury time before Gnanduillet’s match winner was the perfect finish to a dramatic encounter.