Spireites continued their unbeaten record at Fleetwood Town’s Highbury home but everyone there will be wondering just how Paul Cook’s men didn’t bank maximum points.
Chesterfield, starting with Gary Roberts and Jay O’Shea both being well below full fitness whilst subs Ollie Banks and Dan Gardner wouldn’t normally have been considered for selection, dominated large swathes of the game.
They had the bulk of possession, most shots and best chances, twice hitting the woodwork in a frenetic three minutes of second half added time.
Dan Jones, who was magnificent throughout, saw one of his many crosses in from the left land on top of the bar whilst sub Armand Gnanduillet hit the post after fellow replacement Banks’ shot from just inside the box was parried by home keeper Chris Maxwell.
Those two woodwork incidents followed on immediately from a couple of Fleetwood corners that had both caused significant problems but skipper Ian Evatt led his side by example, standing firm and standing tall in the relatively rare moments of sustained home pressure.
In the 90 minutes leading up to the frantic finish, Chesterfield had looked superior to the side that went into the game as League One’s only 100% side.
Cook selected an unchanged team but switched formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-1-1. His rationale was: “We wanted to negate the effect of (Antoni) Sarcevic so put (Romy) Boco down the left because his work rate could do that and they took Sarcevic off so it must have worked.”
Fleetwood started well, Josh Morris and Stephen Crainey went close but Spireites soon began to wrestle control of the midfield and hence the park as a whole. Jimmy Ryan and Sam Morsy, as so often, combined in a way that’s beautiful to watch from both attack breaking and an attack creating viewpoints.
Roberts struck a free-kick just over and also fired inches high following a Tommy Lee goalkick whilst Eoin Doyle’s run, cutting in from the left, caused iproblems and, following a bit of pinball, Maxwell had to rapidly back track to keep the ball out of the goal.
Jones’s never ending supply of crosses continued, causing palpitations every time, Maxwell saved a snap shot from O’Shea and another from Roberts in a first half that saw Chesterfield in full-flow.
The hosts improved after the break, David Ball in particular stepped up to the plate and the striker teed up Gareth Evans whose fierce shot was palmed away by Lee, his only significant intervention, but it was a major one.
Spireites again began to gain the upper edge until close to the end when the fuel tank started running on low due to the fitness levels of key players, a week without a game will rarely have been as welcome.
“We played well, we were terrific in the first half,” said Cook who added: “We executed our game plan with Daniel Jones and Tendayi Darikwa going forward, these are really good assets but unfortunately now we’ve gone two games without a goal and the pressure to bring strikers in goes on.
“We’re a very honest group, we put in a really good performance but we needed that first goal to make it a polished performance. We are in the market to make us stronger.”
With no midweek game, Cook will be hoping his quartet of wounded raiders have time to recuperate and be ready for the trip to Port Vale next weekend.