Draw specialists Chesterfield finally notched up their first three-pointer of the season with an almost comfortable win over fellow relegated side Wycombe.
The ‘almost’ qualification refers to a 12 minute period towards the end of the game. Following a Neal Trotman own goal that gave the otherwise well beaten visitors a glimmer of hope, until fellow central defender Sam Hird headed home a Craig Westcarr free-kick, there was a danger that the Chairboys may have nicked an undeserved point.
Caretaker manager Tommy Wright has now led his side to two draws and a cup win plus this victory. The two draws are notable, one of them being the only points leaders Gillingham have dropped to date and the other, at York that was within a whisker of a win, was against a side now unbeaten in six.
A win tomorrow against an Accrington Stanley side unbeaten on the road could prompt the powers that be to at least extend his tenure to the end of the season.
Spireites came out of the traps with a purpose. Debutant Chris Atkinson, 20, borrowed from Huddersfield Town, made an early burst into the box that ensured the home fans immediately saw he had talent.
Marc Richards, still without a goal but playing with great heart, teased a foul out of Adam Thompson that saw him booked. A couple of minutes later the striker’s speed and strength saw him get clear from Leon Johnson who ended up bundling him over and seeing red with just 10 minutes played. Chesterfield then had only a short wait to see their side open up a two-goal cushion.
Jack Lester, starting for the first time this season, was the middle man in a one-two with Richards on the right and the latter delivered a cross for Atkinson to volley home his first league goal from close range. The move was exceptional, the finish was admirable and the relief was palpable.
Richards saw Nikki Bull tip a low drive around the post before Spireites second, with the clock on just 20. Terrell Forbes, a model of consistency this season, crossed in from the right. Bull punched away and, just outside the box, Sam Togwell hammered a volley and Lester, as alert as ever, spotted the opportunity to slightly deflect the ball wide of the keeper with an intelligent header.
From that point until half-time, the only surprise was that the home side didn’t score again as the chance count increased but the final touch was lacking.
The second half began with Chesterfield still in control, but operating at a somewhat lower tempo, their best early chance to kill the game off coming when Richards, who probably should have shot, squared the ball for an unmarked Lester. But the 36-year-old just couldn’t get the toe onto the ball that would’ve meant a certain goal.
There was an amusing moment when first year ref, Sussex-based Tim Robinson, who had never previously ventured further north than Dagenham to control a league game, had to be treated for cramp by Spireites physio Jamie Hewitt. “You’re not fit to referee,” boomed out the fans!
Former Spireite Dean Morgan, debuting for the visitors, earned a corner and, before it was taken, Wanderers brought on Olly Taylor for his first taste of first team action. The big sub was closest in on defender Trotman who, after keeper Richard O’Donnell had failed to take Matt Spring’s delivery, shinned the ball into his own net to give all home connections the heebie-jeebies.
Tendayi Darikwa replaced Lester and the new energy lifted the hosts. Any doubts that points would be lost were ended five minutes from time when Sam Hird made it two in two, heading in Westcarr’s set-play delivery.
Wright said: “We made it difficult for ourselves, but I thought we started ever so well. The front two were really good and although the sending off affected the game, that was from our good play. We scored two good goals butI thought we got a little bit nervous and stopped doing the simple things.”