MATCH REPORT: Chesterfield 4 Carlisle 1

Hat-trick goal: Leon Clarke celebrates his third.  Picture: TINA JENNER
Hat-trick goal: Leon Clarke celebrates his third. Picture: TINA JENNER
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Swindon outcast Leon Clarke showed just what Paolo Di Canio is missing by notching his first ever professional hat-trick.

The 26-year old on-loan striker hit a perfect hat-trick. His left-footer, header and right-footer made it five goals in his opening three Spireites games. That marks the best scoring start for any player since Dennis Woodhead hit the same in 1955. He now bids to become the first man to score in his first four Chesterfield appearances since Colin Cook in 1932. Cook hit the net in each of his first six games, a club record.

Clarke got the ball rolling after just 127 seconds. Alex Mendy turned left-back Matty Robson, crossed deep for Craig Westcarr who played a short, simple ball for Clarke to sweep home with his left foot from just inside the six.

Carlisle, who at no stage threw the towel in, levelled after consistent pressure. James Berrett delivered a corner from the right. Peter Murphy and Greg Fleming, making his first start in place of the injured Tommy Lee, went for the ball which ended up going skywards. As it fell back down, striker Lee Miller seemed to shove Fleming ahead of latching on to the ball to force it home.

Fleming, who trained with Carlisle for a couple of weeks in pre-season before moving to the B2net, said: “I thought it was a foul. Nine times out of 10 you’re going to get that. I’d got my eye on the ball and the boy just knocked me as I was about to try and go for it and unfortunately I fell over and he hit it in. At least we battled back and got the right result.”

Chesterfield didn’t have to wait long to restore the lead. Danny Whitaker crossed in from the left and Clarke found some space to glance a 15-yard header beyond Adam Collin.

He completed his hat-trick early in the second half, stabbing the ball home from close range after Whitaker’s free-kick had been driven goalwards by Jonathan Grounds. It then clipped Westcarr before Clarke pounced.

The former Owls striker said: “I’m lucky the ball is dropping for me in the right places at the moment. I’m getting good connections with the ball and it’s going in.”

Spireites’ scoring ended when the impressive Nathan Smith chipped in a cross for Westcarr to head home after getting free of his marker. The scoreline mirrored John Sheridan’s sides’ new-found attacking credentials but was harsh on Carlisle, unbeaten in away League One games ahead of this. They offered much more than the final result suggests and suffered when scorer Miller limped off before the break.

However, Chesterfield were on top of their game as they made it 10 points from the last 12 available.

Sheridan said: “Our game was very good, a good team performance.”

Chesterfield: Fleming 6; Talbot 6, Grounds 7, Ford 8 (Holden 80), N.Smith 8; Mendy 8, Allott 9, Johnson 7, Whitaker 7; Westcarr 7 (Boden 80), Clarke 8 (Bowery 89). Subs (not used): A.Smith, Randall.

Carlisle: Collin 6; Tavernier 6, Murphy 6, Michalik 7, Robson 5; Noble 6 (McGovern 57, 7), Thirlwell 7, Berrett 8, Zoko 6 (Welsh 57, 7); Loy 7, Miller 7 (Curran 39, 7).

Bookings: Johnson foul 48 (Chesterfield).