Result: Chesterfield 3 Sheffield United 2

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Both managers had predicted the atmosphere inside the Proact Stadium would be white-hot. They were exactly right.

In front of a capacity and predictably vociferous crowd, Chesterfield and Sheffield United tore into each other straight from the off. No quarter was asked and none was given.

Chesterfield vs Sheffield United - Daniel Jones brings the ball forward Pic By James Williamson

Chesterfield vs Sheffield United - Daniel Jones brings the ball forward Pic By James Williamson

Stefan Scougall, the visitors’ Scotland under-21 international, was the first player to find himself on the receiving end of a heavy challenge when he was clattered during a fourth minute midfield melee. After a period of Chesterfield pressure, with Daniel Johnson testing both Neill Collins and new signing Paddy McCarthy, Scougall recovered to build United’s first attack of note.

On that occasion, he was crowded-out but, in the 11th minute, Michael Higdon eluded his marker to head Jamie Murphy’s centre into the back of Tommy Lee’s net. However the assistant referee had already reiased his flag.

The 17th minute produced the contest’s first moment of controversy. If United captain Michael Doyle had been fortunate to escape with a caution following a borderline tackle on Samy Morsy, then Georg Margreitter should definitely have been dismissed when he hauled Murphy back when the United winger was through on goal. Because the incident took place towards the right hand edge of Lee’s area, referee Mark Brown decided a yellow card would suffice. Scougall collected the third of the afternoon soon after before, in the 25th minute, Jimmy Ryan fired Chesterfield ahead.

Jay O’Shea slipped the ball to his colleague 25 yards from goal and a feroucious, piercing shot left Mark Howard grasping at thin air.

Chesterfield vs Sheffield United - Sam Morsy battles in the air Pic By James Williamson

Chesterfield vs Sheffield United - Sam Morsy battles in the air Pic By James Williamson

Three minutes later, United found themselves with a mountain to climb when Higdon was dismissed for a tackle on Jones. The United striker flew in from an angle and shook his head in dismay when a red card was produced. Jones received lengthy treatment in the centre circle but was able to resume and, fortunately, showed no ill-effects.

United’s response was led by Scougall who, very nearly, danced his way through to Lee before Morsy blocked his path.

As tempers on the away bench began to fray, parity, in numerical terms at least, was restored when Chesterfield goalkeeper Lee saw red for felling Flynn on the edge of the area when Ian Evatt’s chest-back fell short.

But, just as United sensed an opportunity, Gary Roberts doubled the home side’s advantage after slipping an angled shot beyond the horribly exposed Howard.

Gary Roberts wheels away after putting Chesterfield 2-0 up,leaving United defender Paddy McCarthy in deespair. Picture: James Williamson

Gary Roberts wheels away after putting Chesterfield 2-0 up,leaving United defender Paddy McCarthy in deespair. Picture: James Williamson

Eoin Doyle made the game safe for Chesterfield in the 71st minute when, in acres of space, he converted from close-range when Johnson’s initial shot had been blocked.

The Irishman, whose decision to hold a corner flag aloft in celebration brought a booking, was immediately withdrawn with Armand Gnanduillet entering the fray.

With 11 minutes remaining, McNulty reduced the deficit with a simple finish. Wright should have comfortably collected Scougall’s through ball but instead chose to slide

along the turf. When he made a dreadful hash of doing so, Darikwa could not react in time to stop the United substitute sliding home into an empty net.

Jimmy Ryan is mobbed by teammates as his strike puts Chesterfield  1-0 up

Jimmy Ryan is mobbed by teammates as his strike puts Chesterfield 1-0 up

Collins saw two attempts superbly blocked by a Chesterfield defender during a set-piece melee.

In the 73rd minute Eoin Doyle appeared to make the game safe for Chesterfield when, in acres of space, he converted from close-range when Johnson’s initial shot had been blocked.

The Irishman, whose decision to hold a corner flag aloft in celebration brought a booking, was immediately withdrawn with Armand Gnanduillet entering the fray.

With 11 minutes remaining, McNulty reduced the deficit with a simple finish. Wright should have comfortably collected Scougall’s through ball but instead chose to slide along the turf. When he made a dreadful hash of doing so, Darikwa could not react in time to stop the United substitute sliding home into an empty net.

Collins saw two attempts superbly blocked by a Chesterfield defender during a set-piece melee.

Collins did make it 3-2 - heading home from Campbell-Ryce’s free-kick - in the second of four added minutes. But Chesterfield held-on.

Chesterfield: Lee, Evatt, Darikwa, Ryan, Jones, Johnson, Margreitter, Morsy, O’Shea, Roberts, E. Doyle.

Subs: Gardner, Gnanduillet, Clucas, Raglan, Boco, Banks, Wright.

Blades: Howard, Alcock, Wallace, Flynn, M. Doyle, Murphy, Scougall, Collins, McEveley, Higdon, McCarthy.

Subs: Harris, Basham, McNulty, Davies, Campbell-Ryce, Reed, Turner.