Chesterfield pressed the self-destruct button to gift Coventry their first win under manager Tony Mowbray.
Spireites delivered more than double the amount of shots the Sky Blues did, they earned 15 corners to five and bossed possession for much of the game, prompting former Coventry player Paul Cook to say: “We’re getting in the ascendancy in games and then shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The home side, entertaining Coventry in a competitive match for the first time since 1960, began the architecture of their own downfall as early as the ninth minute.
Play had been almost entirely in the visitors half when a deep, looping, non-threatening looking cross from just inside Spireites territory dropped down for ex-Owl Marcus Tudgay. He was being marshaled by Tendayi Darikwa, undoubtedly one of the Proact’s shining lights this season, but the right back remained somewhat statuesque giving Tudgay the opportunity to get his head on the ball and lift it beyond the reach of Tommy Lee.
Chesterfield were soon back in the ascendancy but were unable to lift their level to anything approaching their significant capabilities.
Caolan Lavery forced keeper Lee Burge into action a couple of times, the second almost spawning a goal as the ball squirmed under the keeper who was mightily relieved to see it slide inches wide of the post.
With a half-time cup of tea about to provide home fans with their best moment of the afternoon, Gary Roberts to and fro-d on the right, waiting for the right moment to pass to Jay O’Shea whose shot clipped the back of debut-making Spurs loanee Grant Ward to just take the ball beyond Burge for the Irishman’s fifth goal of the season.
Goals apart, half-time chit-chat will have included the hosts’ appalling show from attacking corners. Seven delivered, seven failed to trouble the City defence, who earlier in the week had appointed former Chesterfield keeper Steve Ogrizovic to strengthen their significant weaknesses in this area of defence.
Spireites retained the upper hand in shot count, possession and badly delivered corners before skipper Ian Evatt, born in Coventry, significantly under hit a clearance, admittedly with his weaker left foot. It fell to Ward just inside the box and his low ball back in, probably a shot, was turned in by sub Sanmi Odelusi, borrowed from Bolton, who was given far too much freedom in the six.
Ten minutes later, more help for City’s cause came from their hosts. After a sustained Spireites attack, the ball was partially cleared and Roberts, 15 yards inside the Coventry half but facing his own goal, laid an impossible bouncing ball back to Ritchie Humphreys who was powerless to hold off Frank Nouble on the halfway line. The former Barnsley man used his considerable strength before demonstrating his undoubted pace to show a clean pair of heels to two chasing defenders before calmly beating League One’s one-on-one king Lee to open up an unexpected two goal cushion.
Three concessions that Coventry had hardly had to work for, but the hosts refused to lie down.
Burge was ever busier, the corners started to get better, one even led to Sam Hird getting a header in on target that was scrambled clear, but City held out until the 85th minute when Roberts laid on another, this time for sub Gboly Ariyibi, who showed great technique to fire the ball across the goalkeeper and into the far post.
Chances to level were created, none better than deep into stoppage time when Humphreys’ long throw found the head of Lavery but his close-range effort brought out the save of the game from Burge.
Cook concluded: “We want to encourage passing play here but when it goes wrong, now and again you must come out and back your players and I’ll always be like that as a manager.
“Trouble is that today, every time we looked to get a foothold in the game we were on the back foot again and that’s a problem when you give goals away. It’s so disappointing because when you’re in games like that, we don’t know how to draw games, we haven’t got that game-management. Every team has an Achilles heel and lack of game management is ours.”
Spireites host Gillingham tomorrow night.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6, Darikwa 5, Evatt 5 (Dieseruvwe 84), Hird 6, Jones 5 (Humphreys HT, 6), Ryan 6, Banks 6 (Ariyibi 70, 7), O’Shea 7, Roberts 6, Clucas 7, Lavery 8. Subs (not used): Chapman, Raglan, Carter, Onovwigun.
Coventry City (4-4-2): Burge 6, Willis 6, Pennington 6, Martin 6, Stokes 5, Ward 7, Fleck 5, Barton 8, Nouble 7 (Jackson 90), Samuel 6 (Odelusi 58, 6), Tudgay 7. Subs (not used): Charles-Cook, Webster, Thomas, Turgott, Finch.
Ref: Dean Whitestone (Northants)
Attendance: 7205 (1164 from Coventry)