Spireites go second with fine away win

Chesterfield's Ritchies Humphreys, right, in is 600th league appearance as the Spireites won 2-0 at  Torquay
Chesterfield's Ritchies Humphreys, right, in is 600th league appearance as the Spireites won 2-0 at Torquay
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Chesterfield were certainly more Arctic Monkeys than George Orwell in their professional performance on the English Riviera.

The Spireites looked good on the dancefloor as they won their first match at Torquay since the Fourth Division Championship winning side in 1984.

Two first half goals separated by just four minutes gave Chesterfield the comfort that they needed to see them through to six matches unbeaten.

Paul Cook named an unchanged side as continuity was the key against a Torquay side with only one win in eight matches.

Former Sheffield Wednesday and Hartlepool defender, Ritchie Humphreys, made his 600th career league appearance. It has been some year for the newly appointed PFA Chairman; he became Hartlepool’s leading appearance maker of all time, scored his first goal for Chesterfield just a day after his new son was born and now breaks the 600 mark.

After a bright start from the home side, they capitulated defensively on the quarter hour mark. Aaron Downes, who had an eight-year spell with the Spireites, failed to clear a Humphreys cross from the left, the Australian’s scuffed clearance fell nicely to Ollie Banks whose shot had too much power for Torquay stopper Martin Rice to handle. Banks had bagged his third goal in two matches.

Within four minutes, the Spireites had doubled their efforts when Armand Gnanduillet squeezed the ball to Jay O’Shea after another poor defensive clearance from the Gulls defence, this time Krystian Pearce was the culprit. O’Shea’s first effort was saved by Rice, but the Irishman capitalised quickly and fired the ball into the back of the net for his fourth of the campaign.

From this, Chesterfield started to dominate proceedings without the cutting edge to finish the job off completely. A teasing cross from Gary Roberts had the Gulls defence worried and from that Gnanduillet shot wide from distance. Drew Talbot was booked for the second time this season when he clipped the heels of former Sheffield United youngster Jordan Chapell.

Memories of Chesterfield’s capitulation at Morecambe last month were fresh in the travelling Spireite fans’ minds as they saw Torquay enjoy a period of pressure.

Damien Mozika shot wide after a penalty area scramble and Paul McCallum had the ball in the back of the net only to be ruled out for offside.

Jimmy Ryan and Gnanduillet again had efforts which missed the target from 25 yards as the Spireites looked to finish the stronger side going into the break. O’Shea had a deflected shot just before referee Darren Sheldrake blew for half time.

Ollie Banks continued his fine form after the break with a stinging drive from just outside the penalty area which saw Rice tip over. In his newly-found forward role, the 21-year-old has settled into league football like a duck to water considering less than two months ago he was playing non-league football for FC United of Manchester.

Gary Roberts was not his mercurial best on the afternoon, but was more belt and braces as a lovely exchange of passing between Roberts, Gnanduillet and Jimmy Ryan saw the former Scunthorpe man try to chip Martin Rice from just outside the penalty area.

As the afternoon progressed it was becoming more and more comfortable for Chesterfield, with further chances. Jay O’Shea wasn’t so far away with a left footed volley that screamed wide.

Paul Cook decided to make his first change on around the hour mark, Marc Richards replaced the tiring Gnanduillet who had been a real handful all afternoon.

O’Shea’s afternoon was also cut short as Tendayi Darikwa came on. O’Shea had appeared to take a little knock, later confirmed by Paul Cook.

Chesterfield had kept possession mostly in the Torquay half in the second period when eventually the Gulls displayed an attacking threat through Nathan Craig, whose long-range effort was easily saved by Lee. This brought ironic cheers from the home support whose patience had worn a little thin.

The referee was forced into a strong word with Ian Evatt and Sam Hird after the latter clashed with Chapell.

Torquay made a couple of changes in a bid to get back into the game. Elliot Benyon replaced the ineffectual McCallum, whilst Daniel Sullivan came on for Chapell.

The Spireites hit the post when some lovely football from Banks in the centre found Darikwa down the right, his cross in turn saw Richards on the stretch hit the upright, Richards was deemed to have made a run too early so was flagged offside.

As Chesterfield closed in on victory they could have made it more comfortable as the Torquay defence was stretched. A low drive from Roberts was tipped away by Rice and Downes scrambled a clearance.

The Spireite support gave a rousing applause to Ollie Banks as he made his way off the field to be replaced by Eoin Doyle with moments to go. Banks appears to be racking up the man of the match awards in recent weeks.

All there was time for was a Richards’ effort which was scruffily saved by Rice.