Spireites close to late twist in away stalemate

Shrewsbury 0 Chesterfield 0

CHESTERFIELD picked up a hard-earned point against Graham Turner's promotion rivals.

The home side had the bulk of the chances, few of them gilt-edged, but John Sheridan's men could have nicked it right at the end when Danny Whitaker passed the ball in to Jack Lester.

A twist and a turn from the experienced sub saw him create an opening for a cross and Deane Smalley, sliding in, made contact with the ball inside the six yard box, but his shot flew over the bar ensuring the stalemate prevailed.

It was, by far, the best opportunity of the game but it would have been harsh on Shrews had it been converted.

Tommy Lee was easily the busiest keeper but the bulk of the saves he made from Shrewsbury's nine shots on target were pretty routine. The two toughest were both from low efforts, one in each half.

Kevin McIntyre, once a Macclesfield colleague of Whitaker's, played a through ball that beat the backline and any flag. Former Mansfield Town man Craig Disley received in plenty of space and with bags of time, but his shot was blocked by the keeper's legs and Lee immediately pounced on the loose ball to prevent further travails.

Lee, whose handling throughout was clean, had to drop low to gather a downward header from Tom Bradshaw after a left-wing cross from Mat Sadler. It was one of those slightly mistimed headers that sometimes beat a keeper, so Lee's reactions had to be exemplary to ensure his line wasn't breached.

Chesterfield, still seeking their 50th league goal of the season, saw leading scorer Craig Davies effectively marshalled by ex-Miller Ian Sharps, easily Shrews' best performer.

Home frontman James Collins, borrowed from Aston Villa after a spell at Burton where he'd scored in both of Albion's wins against the Spireites, was also kept quiet by Ian Breckin and Simon Ford in the heart of the defence.

Four times promoted, Breckin still has to taste league defeat this season in any game he's started in.

Mark Allott, one match short of joining Fred Capel in 17th place in the all-time Spireites appearance list, gave another typically controlled display in central midfield, rarely wasting a pass or misreading an attack.

The 33-year-old, in his second spell with the club, said: "We maybe could have finished it at the end of the game, that wasn't to be, but a good point and a good team performance. Deane's been doing well and he's getting in those sort of positions and I'm sure he'll get a few more goals whilst he's here."

He added: "It was tough in midfield for me and Dwayne Mattis; they're a good team who've been up there all season. We expected a tough game and that's what we got."

Sheridan gave a debut to 21- year-old Manchester City loanee Javan Vidal and the right-back showed glimpses of decent ability in both his defending and attacking roles. There were also a couple of signs of inexperience, trying to play out of tricky situation when a big boot may have been the better option.

Rather unusually, he also succumbed to not one but two foul throws, both in his own half, the first two awards against the Spireites this season.

The manager was reasonably pleased with his charges' afternoon: "They had a decent chance in the first half and we had a great chance near the end in what was quite an even game, but it wasn't a great game.

"Both teams battled away. There was a lot of work ethic there and it was a good point for us in the end. They've got the players to be able to compete in this division and they'll be thereabouts at the end of the season.

"They gave us a good, hard test but we stood up and did the ugly things, but there was a bit of quality from both sides."

Chesterfield leave today for tomorrow's game at Gillingham.

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