For the second consecutive Saturday, Chesterfield massively out statistic-ed their opponents, even in player numbers as Posh had a man sent-off just after the hour mark, but they ended the game with nothing to show for their considerable efforts.
And to rub salt into Chesterfield’s wounds, just like against Coventry City seven days prior, the opposition didn’t have to work too hard to score, Posh’s 27th minute goal was their first effort of note and, more frustratingly, it was gifted to them.
Conor Washington got the better of Tendayi Darikwa after a home throw and he managed to deliver a cross into the six. The ball bobbled about on the poor pitch before falling to Ian Evatt but his right-footed clearance was weak and fell for Michael Bostwick, 15 yards out. Even then the midfielder didn’t hit the ball ideally and it looked like a simple one for Tommy Lee but the ball clipped skipper Sam Morsy on the way through to deflect in.
Chesterfield boss Paul Cook’s frustration about the concession was palpable. He said: “It was a poor goal for us to concede; I never get involved in criticising our players but we’ve got Achilles heels in there, our supporters know that, I know that, but one thing I’ll never do is criticise our players.”
Morsy had returned to the side after a two-game suspension, Gboly Ariyibi was replaced, and the returning skipper and his midfield partner Jimmy Ryan controlled the centre areas of the pitch for just about the whole game.
Before the key moment, keeper Lee had to wait until the 14th minute for his first touch of the game, and that was merely to take a free-kick close to the halfway line; his only pre-goal touch direct from a Peterborough player was when their man of the match, keeper Ben Alnwick, over-hit a clearance that evaded every outfield player and Posh’s only shot before they scored, from Luke James, flew out for a throw in.
Within a minute of the goal, Lee had to make his best save of the game, to palm away a James angled shot from close range but Lee’s efforts throughout the 90 minutes were dwarfed by the contribution made by Alnwick to his team’s cause.
The former Barnsley man made a sensational double save to deny Jay O’Shea before the goal, he grabbed at the feet of Sam Clucas and saved again from O’Shea to concede a corner that led to another top drawer stop. Defender Sam Hird spectacularly back heeled the ball in mid-air but the 28 year old leapt high to tip over the effort.
Clucas was denied again in similar fashion before another spectacular piece of action from the keeper making his 101st League appearance, Gary Roberts the man whose top corner-bound shot was somehow clawed away; it was more Room 101 than Game 101 for the Chesterfield contingent.
United boss Dave Robertson acknowledged the part the opposition and his keeper played in the game, saying: “Chesterfield are the best footballing team I’ve seen us play so to keep a clean sheet is nothing short of phenomenal. Our goalkeeper was unbelievable. Some of his saves were nothing short of world class.”
Even against ten men for the final half-hour, after home centre back Ricardo Santos picked up two yellows in two minutes, Spireites couldn’t make the breakthrough.
Evatt and Drew Talbot had more than decent efforts blocked by a home side that kept two up front after the dismissal, Washington ensuring Lee had to concentrate right through the game.
As full time beckoned, Gabriel Zakuani was chased down by Clucas and the Chesterfield man just got a toe in on a back pass which struck the foot of the post to confirm it just wasn’t Spireites day.
Cook rued: “I’m disappointed, we played really well. At the start of the game we were on the front foot and were the better team but unfortunately we’ve succumbed and that’s the disappointing thing.
“Sometimes we play really well in games and don’t win, we controlled the game for long periods but probably lacked that final bit of quality and their keeper made a couple of outstanding saves. As a visiting team dominating the game that much you’ve got to score, but I’ve got great belief in what we do and belief in the players.”
With his side down to 11th but still only five points behind sixth place with a game in hand, Cook concluded: “It’s a massive nine games to go, plenty to play for. We leave Peterborough with a smile on our face, disappointed as we are.”
No doubt the manager will be working on attacking corner kicks in training. Fifteen against Coventry and 13 at London Road without reward and frequently without danger.
Chesterfield (4-2-3-1): Lee 6; Darikwa 6 (Jones 72), Evatt 6, Hird 7, Talbot 6; Ryan 8, Morsy 7; O’Shea 7, Banks 6 (Ariyibi 62, 6), Roberts 7 (Dieseruvwe 84); Clucas 7. Subs: Chapman, Humphreys, Onovwigun, Carter.
Peterborough (4-4-2): Alnwick 9; Smith 5 (Brisley 62, 7), Santos 5, Zakuani 6, Ntlhe 7; Taylor 7, Payne 5, Newell 5, Bostwick 7; James 6, Washington 6. Subs (not used): Henry, McLean, Norris, Anderson, Beautyman, Vassell.
Goal: Bostwick 27
Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)
Booked: Newell (Peterborough)
Sent-Off: Santos (Peterborough, two yellows)
Attendance: 6,612 (662 from Chesterfield)